Apple finally detailed the iPhone 5S’s fabled fingerprint scanner, Touch ID, putting to rest months and months of fervent speculation. The company talked up the scanner’s security convenience, saying the new method is much easier than a traditional passcode.
Like the leaked parts photos we saw, the new Touch ID is a capacitive sensor that’s 170 microns thin, senses 500 ppi and scans your sub-epidermal skin layers—very sciencey! Apple said it can read in any orientation, so you don’t have to worry about adjusting the device for specific situations—simply touch your home button and the phone will unlock. You can even use it to authorize iTunes purchases, which is hugely convenient. Whamo. The home button is made out of sapphire, and Apple is promising the button won’t scratch at all; it better not, otherwise the whole system might be compromised.
Interestingly, the new Touch ID system can handle multiple fingerprints, so you don’t always have to use your thumb; it can be an index finger as well if you happen to be using the iPhone 5S with two hands. Fingerprints will be encrypted “and secured inside a secure enclave” right inside the device’s new A7 chip, Apple said; nothing is stored on Apple servers or backed up to iCloud, which should put some privacy advocates at ease.