The iPhone 5S may ship with built-in biometric fingerprint sensor in its home button. The hot rumor comes the day after the beta release of the new iOS 7 development kit, given in advance to developers in order to better craft applications to fit the new operating system’s rules and features.
The news comes courtesy of British developer Hamza Sood, who found the relevant evidence in the form of a folder titled “BiometricKitUI,” which contains code describing images that will be displayed during the initial enrollment of the iPhone user’s fingerprints. Sections of XML code that literally say “Photo of a person holding and iPhone with their left hand while touching the Home button with their thumb” precede an image description: “A fingerprint that changes color during the setup process.”
Upon discovery of the code Sood took the news to Twitter, broadcasting:
iPhone home button to contain fingerprint sensor (found in beta 4) pic.twitter.com/tUlZ6xjeer
— Hamza Sood (@hamzasood) July 29, 2013
Rumors that the next iPhone will contain a native biometric sensor have been long standing, originally making the rounds last July after Apple purchased AuthenTec, along with the security firm’s patents and development on fingerprint scanners, for $356 million.
Though Apple has yet to confirm any of this (even the alleged name of the next iPhone), the level of security provided by a biometric lock that scans a user’s fingerprint will come as a relief to a world obsessed with privacy, in dire need of a replacement for the password.
Enhanced security will be welcome on Apple’s future smartphone offering, with the theft of iPhones (colloquially known as “Apple picking”) single-handedly driving up New York’s crime statistics, not to mention security being a major roadblock in the emerging Bring Your Own Device workplace. With a phone that can only be accessed by its owner, not only is sensitive information out of the hands of Apple pickers, but employees are made accountable for any information leaks.
The biggest implication of this rumored increase in security is that it supports even another, long speculated suspicion: that Apple will be soon offering a mobile commerce solution, allowing iPhone owners to use their smartphones instead of cash or credit, protected by a key as unique as themselves that no one else has access to.
The iPhone 5S is expected to hit Apple Store shelves in mid-September, possibly followed by a more affordable plastic version. If it has this kind of innovative security measure, Apple can expect to say hello market share Android has been gobbling up, and we can all start to say goodbye to the password.