Biometrics, long the province of security-conscious businesses, has gone mass-market with the iPhone 5S,iPhone 6,iPhone 6Plus. The phone has a fingerprint scanner integrated into its Home button. To many iPhone buyers, fingerprint scanning on a phone is mainly about simplifying life by not having one more password to remember.
Touch ID, as Apple calls its technology, isn’t about ending passwords altogether, though. For instance, Touch ID doesn’t work unless you have a passcode set. You need to use your passcode each time you reboot your phone or access it when you haven’t used your Touch ID even once in two days. The main idea is to make security so easy to adopt that everyone will use it. Then, technology designers will be able to use it in a number of innovative ways.
Apple has taken the first step already – a tap on the Touch ID scanner is now all it takes to verify iTunes purchases. Your fingerprint is converted into digital code and stored in your iPhone Keychain. When you need to make a purchase, the digital record of your fingerprint does what your password used to do (Apple goes the extra mile by not storing your fingerprint on its own servers – if a hacking attack should break into its servers, no losses of fingerprint records can occur). Touch ID purchases are only the beginning. Here are ideas for the directions in which Touch ID can soon take off.
Your iPhone’s Touch ID could power your home security system
Many home security systems and cars come with smartphone apps today. You get to arm or disarm your car or home security system and control many onboard features through these apps. You even get to start your car or direct the cameras in your home security system through such apps. The problem here is that if you lose your phone, potentially, your car and home come under risk. Whoever gains control of your phone may also be able to gain control of your home and car. When security companies adopt Touch ID in a big way, though, you get to protect yourself through a tough layer of additional security.
Paying for purchases at physical stores will be more secure
Touch ID may soon be adopted by the makers of store POS systems. One that connects to Apple’s iBeacons system, for instance, could simply have you put your finger on your iPhone’s scanner to check out a purchase at a store. The cash register could send the bill to your phone through Bluetooth and your phone could send fingerprint authorization information back to it. Credit card fraud would be less possible this way.
Multiple user profiles on one phone become possible
If you could have multiple user profiles on your phone, it could become easier for you to share your phone with family members. With Touch ID, multiple user profiles become particularly easy to deploy. If you need to give your phone to your child to play with, for instance, a touch of the child’s finger could give him access to his own profile. Your own apps and settings remain safe.
You could even have multiple user profiles for yourself. If you want different profiles for work and home, you simply need to set them to open to scans of different fingers.
The Apple Passbook app can become far more usable
Passbook is a native iPhone app that lets you catalog all your event tickets, store coupons, passes and other such things in one place. Passbook hasn’t been a popular resource, though. Most Apple users haven’t even heard of it. Touch ID will probably enhance Passbook in the future and turn it into a safe and well-designed digital wallet – one that stores all your payment details and other financial information.
Touch ID will probably set off an important round of changes
Touch ID isn’t about enhanced security – it doesn’t secure mobile devices better than passcodes do. It does succeed in making mobile devices more secure, though, because it makes security easy to use. When top-tier security is widely adopted, app developers and technology designers will be able to design improvements in many interesting directions.