Countdown to the New Biometric iPhone

08/16/2013 09:57
by  Louis Basenese

Forget what former U.S. intelligence analyst, Edward Snowden, might be sharing with Russian President, Vladimir Putin.  Here's a bigger "state" secret that just got leaked...So what is it?

It's code from the fourth beta version of iOS7 - the operating platform for Apple's (AAPL) next mobile devices. While it looks like something for web geeks only, I've highlighted the key parts. They reveal that the biggest rumor about Apple's next iPhone is truer than ever. The next iPhone is going to include a fingerprint sensor. Plain as day, the code mentions acquiring fingerprints for "recognition."  So there's no doubt about it now. We're at a tipping point for biometric identification - something I predicted back in February
Here's what you need to know now...

Countdown to the New Biometric iPhone

While investors have spent the past year fretting about Apple's sinking share price, behind the scenes, the company has zeroed in on biometric technology.  In my February column, I noted how in the span of a few short months, Apple secured all the necessary pieces to incorporate biometric identification into a mobile device. Specifically...

  • The software - from Microlatch.
  • The hardware - via its acquisition of AuthenTec.
  • The key patent - #20120258773, to be exact.

The market was disappointed when the company didn't include biometrics in the iPhone 5. But the latest leak - coincidentally just one month or so from the expected unveiling of the newest iPhone - only solidifies the case for biometrics being incorporated into the device.

So will the fingerprint sensor be used to unlock the phone? Or to confirm identity for payments?

A Biometric Assault on the Apple Army

Well, the patent points to both possibilities: "Based on the scan by the biometric sensor, the electronic device may verify the identity of the user. Identity verification may provide a more secure electronic purchase method, as well as a more secure unlocking method for the electronic device."

But the truth is, it doesn't matter which route Apple chooses.

The critical point is that a fingerprint sensor is going to come baked into every new iPhone sold.


And with an army of smartphones bing deployed with biometric technology, it opens the door for App makers to incorporate fingerprint verification into their programs.

Government Demands Answers on Biometric Adoption

At a May 21st Hearing of the House, Space and Technology subcommittee on reserach and techmology, legislators demanded to know why biometrics haven't been adopted yet.

  • PayPal wants to “move away from passwords and get embedded fingerprint scanners on mobile phones,” according to President, David Marcus. “You’re going to start seeing that experience later this year, with a mass rollout in the year to come,” Marcus says.
  • Just this week, RSA, the security division of EMC Corp. (EMC), acquired San Francisco security firm, PassBan. Guess what PassBan’s specialties are? Biometrics. Specifically, voice and facial recognition, geo-location and on-demand, one-time-password tokens for mobile devices.
  • Pay Touch wants to link fingerprints to credit cards, discounts, promotions and loyalty programs.

With these market leaders betting on biometrics, there's little doubt that others will follow suit.