A fingerprint scanner - a biometric way to verify your identity - is one of the strongest, most likely rumors making the rounds about the upcoming iPhone 5s, widely expected to be announced by Apple this fall. Whether it's ultimately announced or not, and whether it's built into the Home button or not, the idea has been picking up speed since Apple bought biometric specialist AuthenTec last year, and will likely continue to do so up until the iPhone 5s is announced on stage.
There's a strong argument to made for a fingerprint - or more specifically, a thumbprint - scanner in the next iPhone, and even the next iPods and iPads. Entering passwords on mobile sucks. Keyboards on mobile aren't as fast as desktop keyboards, nor is the software as forgiving. That tends to make people use shorter, simpler passwords, or no passwords at all.
At the same time, mobile devices hold as much if not more personal information about us than anything that's ever come before. They're becoming our virtual identity. They need to be secure.
Questions remain about how it could be implemented, however. If in the Home button, than how will it work? If not in the Home button, than where? Would a thumb scan be enough or would/should a Passcode still be required as well. How would sharing a device, like an iPad, work for multiple family members or co-workers? How would lending a device to a friend work? Will third party apps be able to use it for authentication as well?
The most important question, though, is would you use it? What would Apple have to do - how much automagic-ness will they have to employ, to make biometric authentication as mainstream as they have smartphones, tablets, and natural language?