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Major Touch ID Enhancements Coming, Apple Patents Suggest

by Brandon Russell | December 18, 2014December 18, 2014 12:00 pm PDT

According to new patents discovered by AppleInsider, future iPhones might implement much more complex unlocking methods through Touch ID. The patents are attributed to Dale R. Setlak, co-founder of AuthenTec, which is the company that was acquired by Apple to power its Touch ID technology. Right now, the implementation of Touch ID couldn’t be simpler; users place their finger on the sensor and their phone will unlock. In the future, however, this method would be combined with motions, swipes and more.

As the photos above show, there are a few different ways Apple wants to enhance Touch ID security. In one example, a user is shown swiping and rotating their finger over Touch ID to complete an unlock pattern, which is displayed on the screen. In another example, an old rotary dialer is displayed, with the user required to rotate their finger over the Touch ID sensor to enter the required passcode.

The thing that makes Touch ID so good is how incredibly easy it is to use. Judging by what the patents describe, these new interactions would make unlocking methods much more complicated. The Touch ID button is barely big enough to register a fingerprint as it is, and using one to drag over a swipe pattern doesn’t sound easy. Of course, these patents may never show up at all in future iPhones; we know how focused Apple is on user experience.

That doesn’t mean Apple won’t find alternative ways to take advantage of the Touch ID sensor. The technology is capable of sensing both movement and motion of a user’s fingerprint, so perhaps we’ll see updates that allow for unique input methods down the road. Right now, in addition to simply unlocking your phone, users with an iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus can take advantage of “Reachability,” which is executed by double tapping the Touch ID sensor.

One future possibility, as noted by AppleInsider, would be to launch specific apps with different motions, or even with different fingerprints. That could certainly add to the experience, though we’re still not sure about the unlocking methods highlighted in the actual patents.

AppleInsider

Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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