A London programmer has found evidence that fingerprint recognition is on the latest version of the iOS 7 beta, which was released to developers on Monday. The Apple update has fueled months of rumors and will reportedly take effect for users this fall.
The fingerprint scanner would make Apple devices more secure and pave the way for widespread use of mobile payments, making users less vulnerable to fraud.
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Hamza Sood uncovered a code for iOS 7 beta 4 that seemingly references a biometric scanner built into a future iPhone’s home button in the BiometricKitUI folder within the AccessibilityBundles folder in the Library directory of the new OS.
The line says, "Photo of person holding an iPhone with their right hand while touching the Home button with their thumb," which Sood told Forbes signifies “what an iPhone with VoiceOver on would read to a user.”
The scanner would be available on the latest iPhone, which is due out this fall
, and would be the first Apple product to feature such a sensor.
Backing up Sood's claim, technology website 9to5Mac reported that another source told them
that “the user-interface for the fingerprint scanning system has been complete.”
Apple purchased mobile and network security company AuthenTec last year for $356m. AuthenTec produces hardware, including fingerprint sensors, fuelling further speculation about the sensor's introduction into future Apple products, according to the Telegraph.
Tim Cook has said in April that Apple's mobile payments are "just getting started" and still "in their infancy," but if done correctly, a fingerprint scanner could give the Cupertino, Calif.-based company an edge over competitors like Google Wallet.
Passbook, a system Apple released last year to convenience customers using gift card or ticketing apps, could be overhauled so it is more apt for payments, or the company could capitalize on the App store, which already stores hundreds of millions of credit card numbers, MacRumors pointed out.
Fingerprint sensors for smart phones have not been widely used in the past. Motorola released the Atrix 4G in 2011 which featured a biometric fingerprint sensor it claimed offered a level of security surpassing password or PIN locks, but customers reported mixed levels of success with the scanner, with many saying the sensor failed to recognize their fingerprint. Other digital security systems include the Samsung Galaxy S3's Face Unlock feature, and in the future it's likely phones will unlock upon recognition of its owner's voice, according to the Telegraph.
But there is no guarantee the final version of the iOS 7 will have the fingerprint scanner, even if the beta versions have it, as developers constantly change features of software updates until the last minute.
The beta 4 version surfaced just three weeks after the previous beta.
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