Would you use a finger-print scanner on the iPhone 5S or future iPad? [Poll]

Would you use a finger-print scanner on the iPhone 5s or future iPad? [Poll]

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?

Rene Ritchie

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

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Reader comments

Would you use a finger-print scanner on the iPhone 5S or future iPad? [Poll]

29 Comments

If Apple integrates the rumored NFC-wallet with a required fingerprint authentication, then hell yeah!

The question is if it be possible to stole your biometric data. And the second question if you really want to let apple company know your fingerprint.

I'd still want a pass code. What if something happens to the finger you register with your device? You cut it and have a bandage, or worse lose the finger. You'd still need a secondary way to access your device.

None but most finger print scanners (ones ive used anyway) only allow you to use one finger print. Not every finger. Therefore if you use your right thumb and lose or damage your right thumb, you're screwed.

I've had a few laptops with fingerprint scanners and your 'register' more than one finger, all 10 in fact, so in the event of losing both hands you are going to have more to worry about than accessing your phone

Must be nice. Every laptop I've used or owned with a print scanner allows one print to be registered

No. If and when the security white hats et al. tell me that it stores my print safely, then I might consider it. I have no issues using a longer passcode on my ios devices in the 1st place.

And what if a thief were to chop off my finger and use it to unlock the phone?

What? Don't look at me like that. It's a valid question.... :/

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Given the fact that apple is sending info directly to the NSA, hell no!!!!

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I would have to see how well it works. It seems gimmicky to me. I don't think Apple would include it unless it worked reliably though. That being said, I think it's too soon for that and we won't see it on the 5S.

I'd absolutely use it. I like the passcode in theory but I hate entering it every freaking time I try to unlock my device. Using a fingerprint scanner would be slick, if it worked reliably. However I would think it should replace not only the passcode, but also the slide to unlock. It just seems redundant to have both.

I think the technology is a great idea - this is how we're all going to unlock our devices whether we like it or not. The problem is that it's a horrible time. With Spygate and the NSA, the less a company can ask its users for in terms of personal information, the better.

I think it will be a nice feature, Android got face unlock, voice unlock, pattern unlock and you can even wink your eyes to unlock, any new feature is good on a smart phone

Our family's iPad is shred, obviously, by all members: How would that work?! (Your poll doesn't have this option, BTW. Something like: No, unless Apple solves the multiple use issue.)
On a side note, perhaps retina recognition technology is better than fingerprint technology by virtue of not leaving "tracks"?

As said before. I don't want the NSA to have my digital fingerprint on file, so no way in hell would I prefer Apple/Google or Microsoft to make it easier for them to obtain it.

The iPhone homebutton is already one of the weakest points of the device, since it was designed to fail after a while. I cringe to think of the cost of replacing a fingerprint sensing homebutton.

definitely!! if its as handy as the finger print scanner or better than the one on the android motorola atrix. sometimes keep putting in the passcode gets annoying.

Of course it must work reliably. No way that I'll keep fiddling with the button to get it to recognize my finger.
And I don't want the phone or Apple to store a scan of my fingerprint either. If the fingerprint is used someway to derive a strong crypto key then I think it will be very useful to use instead of passcode or slide to unlock.

The option for fingerprint, passcode or both would be great. I assume they would require a passcode as the backup to missing or plastered fingers. There is also the assumption that you could scan multiple fingers, yours and others, to allow access.

I would rather see it implemented through a more sensitive touch screen, or a special section of the screen, than the home button. Seems like the screen, with fewer mechanical parts, would last longer. Just a guess.

Fingerprint scan would be MUCH better than passcode typing when you're distracted by something silly like driving a car through a school zone.

As for concerns about the NSA getting my fingerprints, I have a new tinfoil hat to protect me from them. I am more interested restricting the likes of Google, Facebook, etc when it comes to privacy.

Yes, of course I'd use it. Those folks who are worried about people stealing your biometric data are simply ignorant about how fingerprint scanners work.

I want something stronger than the four digit passcode, so I use a password on my iPhone. However, I don't want to type my complex password to unlock my phone while I'm driving. A thumbscan, with or without an additional passcode, makes things much easier while maintaining a reasonable level of security. Bring it on.