Touch ID: Apple’s iPhone 5S Fingerprint Biometrics Announcement

Ever since Apple acquired Authentec in July of 2012, and with it the design patents for fingerprint biometrics technology, the world of mobile security has been completely abuzz with rumors and speculation, not so much of whether or not we will see fingerprint biometrics powered locks in an iPhone, but when that sighting will occur.

Well, the wait is over. Just as has been predicted by everyone with a technology blog on the Internet and their mother was right to assume: the new iPhone 5S, available for pre-order this Friday, has a native fingerprint sensor, built right into the smartphone’s home button, called Touch ID.

The Apple event was long, and in true fashion saved the big stuff for last. After promoting the iTunes festival, the iPhone 5C (a colorful, smaller, less expensive, sans-biometrics iPhone 5) and an overview of iOS7, Tim Cook finally brought us around to the iPhone 5S.

He went into great depth explaining everything, from its five times faster speed to its new camera features. All the while a new silver ring around the home button went uncommented on. And then, just as it seemed like nobody was going to talk about the bright silver ring around the big elephant in the room, Tim Cook did it:

“The third feature is all about security,” he said, showing a comical stock photo depicting cartoonish law enforcement items. “The most common way is to set up a passcode,” he continued and then used a phrase we all know by heart, essentially that the new iPhone key is one that you have wherever you go.

He was of course talking about the fingerprint sensor: 170 microns thin, sensing 500 ppi, sub epidermal scanning, all made out of sapphire so that it won’t scratch. The silver halo is a detection ring that activates the sensor, which can authenticate multiple fingerprints,each encrypted and secured, never available to other software.

It can be used for both general phone security, touch activating past your lock screen, and for authentication, allowing for iTunes purchases and account sign-in.