Patent reveals fingerprint scanner in next iPhone?

Most of us have lots of personal information on our mobile devices we'd rather wasn't made public. Whether it's for legitimate or more illicit reasons, smartphone security has become next to paramount. Until now, a personal identification number has been the only obstacle lying between a thief and your personal data.

Modern smartphones have been calling out for additional security measures, and in light of recent patent filings from Apple, these measures may soon be appearing on your own device. In various stages, the Cupertino-based company have previously patented fingerprint scanning on a mobile device, although it appears recent filings show the company is taking the technology more seriously for inclusion in its next generation smartphone.

Patently Apple reports that a patent filed in February 2013 show a fingerprint sensor may be incorporated into the bezel of an upcoming device. The placement may perhaps allude to the removal of the home button, an omission that has long been rumoured in the Apple community. Incorporating the sensor into the bezel leads to protection against any environmental hazards and outside factors. The sensor creates a 2D image of the user's fingerprint, which ensures an accurate reading can be taken whilst keeping the process of unlocking the device is a short one. 

After Apple acquired mobile security firm AuthenTec for $356 million back in 2012, it was clear the company were interested in building fingerprint scanning technology into their devices. The only question that remains, though, is how long it'll be before we see it materialise.

Source: TechRadarImage via PatentlyApple

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Samsung unveils the ATIV Tab 3, an 8.2mm thin Windows 8 tablet

Next Story

Firefox third-party cookie blocking again postponed

54 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

What no one has asked yet is, how did Apple get a patent for having a biometric sensor on a phone/mobile device when phones like the Motorola Atrix have it, and laptops have had them since the 90's and PDA devices have as well?

Hiding it is not inventive or even innovative. The sensor works exactly the same whether you can physically see it or not. I am reading the patent application and I dont see anything worthy of protecting.

Also, since the NSA is data sniffing, how do we know when we swipe, this data isn't going to Apple servers where the NSA can retrieve them? Effectively giving them access to 500M fingerprints?

Edited by Hi_XPecTa_Chens, Jun 21 2013, 6:09pm :

There are huge downsides to fingerprint readers. You must swipe exactly the same way you did when you created the print. Your hands can't be too oily or too dry. This could be a huge downside in winter months when colder air dries or freezes your fingertips. If the sensor is the ONLY way to unlock the device it could be very frustrating. I have a ThinkPad with a fingerprint reader and those are issues I have had. However, at least I can still manually log in. I am sure Apple will still keep the PIN as backup.

Face recognition has the issue that you have to line up your face.

Either way, these solutions are fairly lame. Other than email and contacts, you can't access any other info unless you leave everything logged in which I don't. Apple integrating FB and Twitter into the OS makes that easy to get into if a device is ever stolen.

But fingerprint readers have been out for quite some time. My question would be, is this the best thing Apple can so to make the iPhone 5S appear to be different from the iPhone 5?

Spicoli said,
Face recognition can be easily fooled with a photograph. The bulk of the device is probably the reason only a handful of business oriented phones have used it.
to easy to fool with a photo? And what are the chances that photo will be taken and will look exactly like the one you used to lock the phone? Come on man...don't try to justify the fingerprint reader with that type of non-sense.

I think this is a great idea for a phone. Yes others have had finger print scanners on them, others that not many people have heard off.

I would happily use this and I'd put a lot more things on my phone too.
This would be useful if it can be implemented in apps easily.
Paypal for example.
Dropbox - instead of the pin.
eBay
Whichever banking app you choose to use/bank with.
Even for facebook.

There is certain things I don't keep on my phone in case I give it to someone and they snoop around or in case I lose it.

Finger print scanner could be pretty useful, just look at facetime. They made that simple compared to the older phones that done video calls and failed. Facetime is simple and works for most people. Works that easily my nieces and nephew use it to facetime me at stupid times in the morning.

Just because its failed on phones that aren't popular and aren't decent and aren't even marketed well, doesn't always mean it would fail for the next company. Any top of the line phone that adds a finger print scanner for extra security would be good in my eyes, not to mention if they do it as an extra and keep everything else the same. If Samsung stuck it on the s5 it would work pretty well also.

The finger print scanner only unlocks the phone. Using it to also authorize external applications, especially banking, is dangerous as they're easily fooled or bypassed. It's more of a convenience to not having to punch in your unlock code.

What happens if I drop my phone and the sensor gets damaged? $700 phone becomes worthless. Not sure if incorporating it in the bezel is such a good idea.

What happens if you drop your phone and the screen breaks?
What happens if you drop your phone and the home button stops working?

Lesson here is not to drop your phone, the screen will smash long before the senor gets damaged no doubt.

joemailey said,
What happens if you drop your phone and the screen breaks?
What happens if you drop your phone and the home button stops working?

Lesson here is not to drop your phone, the screen will smash long before the senor gets damaged no doubt.

Your phone will be handled 1000's of times in a month. Fact is, you will drop it.

My old HDX laptop had a fingerprint scanner, loved it. A slow determined swipe would work 90% of the time, at worst it took 2 swipes. Never understood why this hasn't been incorporated in a better way onto phones, seems like such and effective and simple solution. Instantly better than any password or pattern system.

Along with the many iPhone thefts, thieves will now be cutting off fingers as well...

On a serious note, curious to see if this catches on. Or if people actually use the feature. Fingerprint scanners have been around for laptops for a long time, but rarely do I see them used.

Well, they bought Authentec for like $600 million, which basically owns all the major patents for fingerprint technologies. It will probably be used for something really important.

Fingerprints are so last century. Apple should be implementing a retina scanner to go with their "retina" displays.

Enron said,
Fingerprints are so last century. Apple should be implementing a retina scanner to go with their "retina" displays.

Now this is something I would like to see.

I think it's unlikely that this is for iPhone or iPad, it's more likely that it's intended for MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

Raa said,
It hasn't worked for companies in the past.
I can't really see it being a widely used feature...
This is Apple we are talking about here. This ain't the Nokia Lumia 920. Apple could put a bad breath analyzer into the mic and it would be a hit. Just saying!

Its true, people seem to buy anything apple makes just because of the logo, but they tend not to implement this kind of technology until it can be done well so I'm expecting it to be a lot quicker and more accurate than the ones you're used to. Now how long before Apple start suing people for implementing this completely unoriginal idea?

JHBrown said,
This is Apple we are talking about here. This ain't the Nokia Lumia 920. Apple could put a bad breath analyzer into the mic and it would be a hit. Just saying!

Tell that to the Apple Passbook, not exactly been a huge success

Imagine if they used this for multi-user on devices. Simply press the home button (with the scanner on it) and it would know who was using the device and switch to their user profile.

One can dream...

Laptop fingerprint readers are useless. Swiped too fast, swiped too slow, swiped on an angle, didn't recognise blah blah blah.

Honestly, my experience is poor, Apple wouldn't put that in their product.

PeterF said,
I must have been dreaming for 3 years then with my Dell XPS M1330 http://www.manualowl.com/m/Del...M1330/Manual/188695?page=84

POS computer the M1330. I still have one, but had the mobo replaced twice to address issues. Now the issue is, I have no video display until the Win7 logon screen is displayed. If I close the lid, it does not go in to sleep mode. I have to fiddle around a lot with it in order to get a display before logon and then everything seems to function correctly. Until I close the lid and the display remains black. Just my DL machine now.

You as well? ;-) I'm with my third motherboard which they kindly replaced long after the original warranty of the original device expired. Hope NVidia got to pay most of the bill for delivering a GPU which burns through the mobo ;-) The next-day service alone made me stick with Dell!

Nashy said,
Laptop fingerprint readers are useless. Swiped too fast, swiped too slow, swiped on an angle, didn't recognise blah blah blah.

Honestly, my experience is poor, Apple wouldn't put that in their product.

This is exactly why I think a fingerprint scanner on a phone is a bad idea.

Nashy said,
Laptop fingerprint readers are useless. Swiped too fast, swiped too slow, swiped on an angle, didn't recognise blah blah blah.

Honestly, my experience is poor, Apple wouldn't put that in their product.

And you can say that based on what? Because the last 2 phones have arrive with half-baked features like Siri and Maps.

I have the feeling it was only a gimmick because, as in most laptops, it was implemented poorly. No one wants to have to swipe their finger over a sensor 3 times before it recognizes their fingerprint, especially on a phone. If apple can make it as quick as pushing a button they may be onto a winner.

It will definitely be out of gimmick land when the touch screen is accurate enough to read your fingerprint though. Imagine picking up your phone and it unlocks as soon as you touch the screen, but only for you.

yup, this right here... everyone turns the reader off on their work laptop and just uses a regular password because you have to swipe your finger at the exact right speed, pressure, angle, etc... that it takes 5-10 swipes to unlock your computer!

M4x1mus said,
I have the feeling it was only a gimmick because, as in most laptops, it was implemented poorly. No one wants to have to swipe their finger over a sensor 3 times before it recognizes their fingerprint, especially on a phone. If apple can make it as quick as pushing a button they may be onto a winner.

It will definitely be out of gimmick land when the touch screen is accurate enough to read your fingerprint though. Imagine picking up your phone and it unlocks as soon as you touch the screen, but only for you.

The thing is they wont be able too. The fingerprint reader must get a good read. That is why sometimes you see people swipe more than once.

1st - you must swipe exactly like you did when it was first recognized.
2nd - skin can't be to oily ot to dry
3rd - reader must be clean of debris.

Your claim that it was poorly implemented on laptops is simply false. I watched ppl swipe and many do it to fast or to slow, they have their fingers angled when they must be straight. Hands are wet (sweaty) or to oily or dry from cold weather.

Those factors all play into the sensor working. The best ones IO have used were in ThinkPads. They simply made the plastic around the sensor drop so that when you slide your finger it slide down the impression which was as wide as your finger and made it easier for a good read. It wasn't perfect, but it worked.

I still have my ThinkPad from 2007 and 9 out of 10 times I unlock it with one swipe.

Nashy said,
Like what?

Is it really that hard to believe? Or Google?

Motorola ATRIX
Fujitsu F-01A
... and more ...
... and many more coming soon ...

Yeah the point is, nobody ever heard about those phones, iPhone would be first widely used phone with fingerprint support.

That wasn't the point at all. I honestly didn't realise some already had it. Obviously not a big deal in my country and I was interested.

As for the passive aggressive post from rfirth, don't be like that champ, I hope I haven't offended you with my ignorance and desire for conversation in this instance.

Shiranui said,
There have already been numerous phones with fingerprint sensors.

The fact is that the key to success is not having has the idea first but execute it in the right way.

PeterF said,
My iPaq back in the days, but it wasn't a phone... http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizs...ment.jsp?objectID=c00031055
But it is a PDA device which morphed into todays smartphone. Basically it is a mobile computer which facts show, people use their phone for more PC like functions vs using it as a phone.

So I would say it qualifies as an early smart device an is in the same family as todays smartphone.

And FYI, the Motorola ATRIX has a biometrics sensor. In case people were wondering.

Got an Atrix 4g here. Been a few years. I've been using the scanner (which is very conveniently placed right on top of the power button) Press power button and swipe in that same spot. Anyone not familiar with the phone would never notice it. Pitty the new Motorola or other Android phones available locally dont have it. Anything combined with that and a 4" screen, I would've upgraded sooner. Not to say I use it all the time. If you want to show someone something on your phone and not look like you're hiding your password, etc. It doesn't appear as rude. Or just want to enable the phone without looking at the screen. It's not replacing the pin completely. It's pin or swipe.

Techo said,
Got an Atrix 4g here. Been a few years. I've been using the scanner (which is very conveniently placed right on top of the power button) Press power button and swipe in that same spot. Anyone not familiar with the phone would never notice it. Pitty the new Motorola or other Android phones available locally dont have it. Anything combined with that and a 4" screen, I would've upgraded sooner. Not to say I use it all the time. If you want to show someone something on your phone and not look like you're hiding your password, etc. It doesn't appear as rude. Or just want to enable the phone without looking at the screen. It's not replacing the pin completely. It's pin or swipe.

IMO, the reason the Atrix has it is because the phone was geared towards business use. One of the phones coolest features was docking it with the laptop dock and using it as a computer. No doubt the biometrics was a huge plus.

However on a consumer based device like an iPhone, even though more businesses are supporting BYOD, I think such is gimmicky at best. Android has several ways to lock a phone that are more consistent and less painful to use.

The iPhone by now should have long been passed PIN and password access. It should have face recognition and other methods.

Nashy said,

As for the passive aggressive post from rfirth, don't be like that champ, I hope I haven't offended you with my ignorance and desire for conversation in this instance.

It was late, and I was tired. You're right, I apologize.