In case of emergency, place your finger on Touch ID

In case of emergency, place your finger on Touch ID

Touch ID, Apple's biometric fingerprint identity sensor, is a convenient way access your iPhone while still having the security of a 4-digit passcode or alphanumeric password behind it. But it doesn't have to be just for you. Touch ID also makes it easy to share access for trips or for everyday family or business life, in case of emergency, or just to get things done. Here's how!

The Touch ID advantage

Sure, if someone needs temporary access to your iPhone, you can give them your 4-digit passcode or alphanumeric password. That, however, comes with a lot of overhead:

  • They have to remember your passcode or password, perhaps in addition to their own, and perhaps in addition to several/many others
  • You have to change your passcode or password afterwards to revoke their access, and remember whatever it is you change it to.

Compared to that, Touch ID has a few advantages:

  • You can easily register a fingerprint, anyone's fingerprint, any time, in only a couple of minutes.
  • No one has to remember anything, the fingerprint is all that's needed.
  • You can easily delete a fingerprint afterwards, no changes, nothing new to memorize.

So, why is that cool?

  • If you have a medical condition, allergies, are doing something treacherous, Touch ID can be a way to provide access to your phone and contacts in case of emergency.
  • If you have a group of people who need access to an iPhone, be it at home or at work, Touch ID is easier to manage and more flexible than a single passcode or password.

Touch ID as emergency access for trips

Let's say you're traveling with a group of friends, or acquaintances old or new, be it on a hike, bike trip, road trip, or tour, Touch ID can be a great way to grant a guide, tour leader, or close friend access to your iPhone in case of emergency.

That way, if something should happen to you, if you get suddenly ill or suffer an injury, whomever you've trusted with Touch ID can access your iPhone, contact the right people, get the right information, and get you the help you need.

Then, when the trip is done, you can erase the fingerprint... until the next trip.

Touch ID as easy access for small staff

If you have a small business with only a few employees, especially if they work in small groups or on shifts, Touch ID can be used to give them access to order, stocking, transaction, remote control, or other software when they need to use it.

Instead of sharing the passcode or password with everyone in the group, and having to change it any time someone changes groups or leaves, you can just add and remove fingerprints as needed.

Touch ID for family sharing

If you're in a relationship, if you have a family, if you have small kids, Touch ID is a great way to give them access to your iPhone in case they ever need to place an emergency call, or simply play a game or watch a video while out and about.

For young kids, it avoids them having to know — and remember, and maybe even blurt out! — your passcode or password. If you're worried about them making iTunes or App Store purchases, you can disable that functionality with the flip of a Settings switch.

For everyone, it makes it easy to manage and once again ensures that you can have security when it matters — in case of theft or loss — while maintaining easy access for those you trust.

The future of Touch ID

Touch ID is an enabling technology. It's a new one. A limited one for now. But it's the kind of technology that will make our lives better in numerous way. The Home button isn't a dead switch any more. It's a contextually aware sensor that can tell who we are.

With iOS 8 Apple will let third-party developers use Touch ID to handle authentication. It's still secure, with Keychain handling everything so no one, not even Apple, gets access to your fingerprints, but it will enable all sorts of new functionality.

Likewise, when Apple updates their products this year, as they do every year, it's likely Touch ID will spread to even more devices, including iPads. Then, the family and business authentication of Touch ID could prove even more valuable.

Have you come up with any creative uses for Touch ID? If so, let me know!

Thanks Chris for the travel idea!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

In case of emergency, place your finger on Touch ID

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I just got rid of my four digit screen door for the more secure long complex password don't know why I waited so long

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I did this on my iPad but the only thing stopping me on my iPhone is the waterproof case on it. Despite training and even rescanning fingerprints I still have issues. The four digit is just more convenient when I need to unlock quickly or in the car.

I am hoping that Touch ID also enables profiles on the iPad. Maybe in iOS 8.1

Think about it. Scan your print, get your setup and data.

i wish there was a way to give a single fingerprint restricted access. id like to give the kids access to the dialer but not my whole phone.

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why can't they enable some type of permissions to only allow emergency access to family members that are registered to your phone. rather than full access