The night before Apple’s scheduled Cupertino jubilee, the Wall Street Journal came out with a fresh report confirming the existence of a home button / fingerprint scanner combo in the iPhone 5S. Not exactly revelatory, but it puts to rest what we’ve heard rumored for many months now. As if the many part leaks and pictures weren’t confirmation enough.
The technology will be one of the iPhone 5S’s defining features, and will introduce a new element into Apple’s famous mobile lineup. Home buttons have been boring home buttons for years now—Apple’s has been the same since the first iPhone launched in 2007—but finally they’ll have some additional value. The technology might not help secure payments or anything of that nature, but it’ll ad an extra layer of security for unlocking a phone instead of relying on numeric passwords.
Fingerprint scanning was first attempted back in 2011 by Motorola in its Atrix 4G, but the concept didn’t exactly take off due to a number of factors. With Apple revisiting the tech—the perfectionist company that it is—perhaps we’ll see it done right, or at least better. Having a smartphone essentially glued to your hand makes the implementation of the scanner right in the home button a natural fit. It’s just a matter of getting the tech to work consistently—and it has to be safe.
Having purchased fingerprint-reader specialist AuthenTec back in 2012, Apple has had plenty of time to perfect the execution; rumors suggest the iPhone 5S’s home button will be slightly bigger, with a grey capacitive ring around a more convex design. If anything, it’ll add a futuristic cool factor, which will only help to improve Apple’s perceived “lack of innovation.” We’ll find out in a matter of hours.