The iPhone 5s’s new Touch ID sensor, embedded in the home button, will allow for faster and more secure logins, Apple said today at its event in Cupertino. The scanner, which uses technology Apple acquired last year when it bought security company AuthenTec for $356 million, will ship with the new iPhone on September 20th.
The system is comprised of a flat sapphire crystal, stainless steel detection ring and fingerprint sensing array, all built into the tactile iPhone 5s home button.
Apple is looking to position the new technology as a smarter way to secure a user’s iPhone, noting many device owners use simply passcodes or none at all.
The home button packs in a 500ppi sensor capable of scanning sub-dermal layers of skin from a variety of angles, resulting in a more detailed, three-dimensional map of a fingerprint. The technology is, according to Apple, able to recognize multiple fingerprints, indicating that it may be used to give specific permissions to specific users.
“All fingerprint [data] is encrypted,” said Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller, “and secured inside a secure enclave. It’s never available to other to other software. It’s never uploaded to Apple’s servers or backed up to iCloud.”
Touch ID can be used for passcodes to unlock the device as well as for iTunes account access, perhaps a first step into mobile payment authentication. Multiple fingerprints can be recognized by the system, which will allow for multi-user access.