KGi Securities analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo has made his predictions about Apple’s product range and updates for the coming year. As well as actual hardware he is also predicting that the next iPhone will contain a Fingerprint Sensor. On the face of it, this could be dismissed immediately; after all Apple have never done this is with any of their devices However, they have just spent $356 million on acquiring AuthenTec, makers of smart sensors and promptly sold on the enterprise encryption side of the business, leaving only the sensor side to be focused on. But what could a fingerprint sensor actually be used for ?
Kuo predicts that the 5S will have a fingerprint sensor, not below, but physically underneath the Home button. As well as being space-saving it could also be a way for Apple to produce something that simply cannot be copied by other manufacturers. Kuo says :
“In contrast, many Android and Windows Phone devices have more than one button below the display, and those buttons frequently lack the mechanical push of Apple’s home button. As a result, attempts to integrate fingerprint scanning on competing devices would be less intuitive, and could frustrate users”.
This could also open up the way for some nice features, including a system wide authentication system, replacing user name and passwords with the sensor. There’s also the Passbook app, launched with iOS 6, to consider. This is currently used for storing things like tickets and boarding passes and a fingerprint system could be sued to keep these even more secure.
How Fingerprint Sensor Works : YouTube Video
One thing that Kuo does not mention is the most likely use for such a system – iPay, which is an Apple payment service. Although it isn’t in development yet, Apple does have several mobile payment product patents pending. They have also been busy hiring NFC experts, although, according to Marketing chief Phil Schiller, Passbook isn’t expected to be used as a direct payment method. Not so long back he was heard to say that there were a lot of digital wallet solutions that were “all fighting over their piece of the pie, and we aren’t doing that”.
However, Apple do have well over 400 million iTunes account holders, each with a credit and/or debit card so it does make sense of the iPhone to eventually be turned into a digital wallet with fingerprint security. Back in 2012 a prediction was made by SITA’S CTO, Jim Peters:
“Who is thinking of the user? Apple. They don’t argue about it with anybody. They came out with Passbook last week, which is an electronic wallet that they are going to start putting stuff on.
They are going to get people using it (the Passbook application) and then all of a sudden they will allow credit cards to be used in there, on the next iPhone, which will include NFC.”
It will be interesting to see of the future of Apple products does include fingerprint sensors although, it’s not likely to be this year’s range. We could be wrong though and Apple may come up trumps after all.