Less than a month ago, a story broke about Apple buying AuthenTec, purveyors of mobile, digital security solutions including fingerprint authentication. While some Apple purchases, like Siri and Intrisity seem to suggest obvious uses, AuthenTec's portfolio and Apple's lack of any branded security beyond FairPlay DRM made intuiting this one a little less obvious. But now PREM14A proxy statement papers have been filed, and The Next Web's Matt Brian has dug through them.
Will we see fingerprint technology in the new iPhone (or iPad)? It seems almost certain. AuthenTec specialises in a number of security products and software that theoretically could have made their way into Apple’s production line or code branches. Details are scarce but its desire to use the technology and see it developed quickly leads us to speculate that we could see it in just a matter of weeks.
Would the September 12 event give Apple enough time to acquire, develop, and integrate fingerprint technology into the iOS product line? Could this be something on track for the iPhone 5 or iPad mini?
Apple introduced Passbook at WWDC 2012, but cast it as a ticket and coupon repository with deft notification and location hooks. Many have imagined that it could also be a fantastic brand and front end for an Apple mobile payments solution, combining NFC and iTunes transaction processing to help bring about the digital wallet. Securing a system like that with biometrics would certainly add a layer of confidence, and make for a fantastic demo and commercial.
But how would it work? How would Apple, a company that prides itself on the aesthetic elegance and minimalism of their hardware design, integrate a unitasker like a fingerprint reader in an elegant and minimalist way? The Home button would seem ideal, but how well would it work, and how dependable would it be?
The idea of new hardware features always excites, but expectations aren't always realistic. We'll have to wait and see. However many questions the securities filings answer, they raise even more -- and ones we'll likely only get answers to when and if Apple's implementation of AuthenTec technology begins to surface.
Meanwhile, The Next Web has put together an excellent overview and chronology for the Apple/AuthenTec deal, so go check it out.