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Inside Apple Touch ID

Published on September 14, 2013 by in Apple, iPhone, News

 

The new Home button biometric scanner was creating buzz long before it was introduced.  When Apple purchased AuthenTec last year (for over $350 million), rumors began to race through the online grapevine regarding what the tech giant might be up to.  When the iPhone 5S was still just a rumor itself, many avid Apple followers were proclaiming the existence of a fingerprint scanner embedded in the device’s Home button.

The buzz around the iPhone 5S hasn’t grown quieter since its introduction.  Users are raving about the new Touch ID biometric sensor that has been incorporated into the Home button of the newest generation of iPhone.  Here’s a look inside the newest Apple craze.

Touch ID Increases Security

After the introduction of the new generation of iPhones, the rumors were proven to be based in fact.  Apple’s new device does indeed have biometric security, which is, quite possibly, one of its best selling points.  Right now, Touch ID doesn’t do anything other than provide security, as well as allowing the verification of purchases in iTunes and the App Store; however, it is almost certain that app developers will find some use for it.  Apple is also planning to add additional functions to the new feature, according to the latest scuttlebutt.

Apple has increased the inherent security of a fingerprint scanning device by refusing to store fingerprint data either on iCloud or within the sensor.  The encrypted data is instead stored on the new A7 processer chip.  The data is erased when a device undergoes a reboot or has not been used within the last 48 hours.  If the data is discarded, it’s not too much trouble to fix; you just have to enter your passcode again and all is well.

The Technology

The Touch ID sensor can read your sub-dermal layers to identify your unique fingerprint.  This is accomplished with a 500-pixel-per-inch scanning sensor that can read from many angles.  We all know that fingerprints, much like voice prints, are different for each individual.  The security provided by requiring a fingerprint is far greater than that provided by a simple passcode.

Versatility with Additional Users

Inside Apple SmartIDThe Touch ID can recognize up to five individual users.  This allows for settings to be user-specific, which is especially useful if you have children who play games or use the phone for other activities.  Setting up each user requires that user to press their finger (any finger, you’re not limited to a thumb or index print) to the sensor from several angles, allowing the sensor to read and save each individual loop and whorl in your fingerprint.  The sensor puts all the angles together to form a 3D picture of the fingerprint to use as a reference.

Durability

The Home button on the iPhone 5S has been upgraded to an extremely scratch-resistant material composed of sapphire crystal.  The steel detection ring that encircles the Home button is required so that the scanner will work when a finger is pressed against it, rather than having to swipe your finger across the sensor as is common in most fingerprint scanners.

Apple admits to the Touch ID having a few drawbacks, mostly related to moisture or other debris that might result in a false reading.  There may also be some problems if you have scars disrupting your fingerprint, but unless all ten of your fingertips are scarred, you could just choose one of your unmarked fingerprints to serve as your identification.

 

 
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