Whilst the speed of the new A7 chip is hugely impressive in the new iPhone 5s, the most exciting hardware addition from a developer perspective is the new finger print scanner incorporated within the home button.
Finger print scanning has long been a popular feature amongst spam apps – where the scanning didn’t actually work, just appeared to – it’s now arrived with exciting technology that actually works. The scanner is built into the home button, protected by a sapphire crystal coating, and uses a low frequency signal to map the unique lines of a user’s finger. By scanning the dermis layer underneath the surface of the skin, it avoids the issue of dry or damaged fingertips. No actual pressure will need to be applied by the user, to activate the phone.
Apple are confident enough in the hardware, to already be talking about it being used to authenticate purchasing through the device.
No longer will users have to enter passwords to make purchases through iTunes Connect, they’ll simply be able to approve them by applying their finger to the Home button.
Although Apple is not opening access to the scanner to third party developers at this time, it is still exciting for developers and users alike, given the established dominance of in-app-purchasing of the most effective app monetization model. From a developers’ perspective, anything that simplifies and makes it quicker for a user, to make a purchase is only ever going to be good news. From a users’ perspective, this should end the issue of kids running up large bills via in-app-purchases, without their parents’ knowledge.
Given the recent disclosures about Western Government’s monitoring and collecting communications and data from the leading US technology companies, it’s reassuring to see that Apple have chosen not to collect its users actual fingerprints. Instead, the finger print record will be encrypted and retained on the user’s actual phone, within the new A7 chip.
With users increasingly having more valuable information on their phones, than in their wallets, it’s also a great security feature. It like represents a great leap forward in making access to phones and the sensitive data they contain simpler and more secure.