Today in California Tim Cook and the rest of his keynote presentation team at Apple took to a dark stage and made an exhaustive list of announcements. Just over a month ago the Apple CEO announced the iPhone 5S on the same stage, and with it the security feature that is going to help bring about great opportunities in mCommerce and mobile identity: the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, a feature that was conspicuously missing from today’s keynote.
The expectations for today were high, Apple having billed the announcement as game changing, and the rumor mill had been buzzing around the idea that a new iPad was going to be shown off. All of this grandstanding and speculation came to fruition. Minor updates to Macs followed the declaration that OS X Maverick will be free to download. Every iLife app received an update, Garageband even received a novel feature: virtual drummers, each with their own names and playing styles.
The presentation ended, as expected, with the announcement of a new tablet: the iPad Air. Impressive specifications drew a number of parallels between it and the iPhone 5S. Both devices have the A7 processor and the M7 motion co-processor, allowing for advanced functionality and increased battery life and speed while allowing for a reduction in size, but the comparisons ended just shy of security features. The one pound iPad Air does not have Touch ID.
The reasons for the omission are unknown. Touch ID was not once mentioned during the keynote despite Tim Cook’s grandstanding in building up to the super-thin tablet’s reveal, saying that iPad’s very inception began with the maxim, “Our most advanced technology in a revolutionary and magical device.”
Biometric security on mobile devices is key to mobile commerce, but the effect that the iPad’s lack of fingerprint sensor will have on the momentum of mCommerce is negligible. Tablets are not ideal for the kind of revolutions in physical point-of-sale on the horizon due to their size, so ensuring that an iPad is secure is not as necessary as it is for smartphones. Still, it has been confirmed that Fingerprint Cards sensors have been selected for use in tablets, so if the omission of Touch ID on the iPad Air is in fact a misstep, then Apple’s competitors will be able to offer the biometric solution consumers want, possibly on Android tablets.