iPhone 5s “Touch ID” Fingerprint Reader Is For Unlocking And iTunes Purchases

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The iPhone 5S fingerprint sensor is officially confirmed. Apple just took the wraps off “Touch ID,” a capacitive sensor that is built into the home button.

Like the rumors have said all along, Touch ID is embedded into the device’s home button, which is now made of sapphire crystal. Apple’s Phil Schiller described the fingerprint as the “key you have with you everywhere you go” during the keynote.

Touch ID will be used for authenticating not only device passwords, but iTunes Store purchases with the user’s Apple ID.

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The home button has been tweaked to include a ring around the edge that acts as the capacitive reader. Simply hold your finger over the button and it scans instantly. You have to teach your device to recognize your fingerprint during setup, and multiple fingerprints can be stored for different users on the phone.

The 500ppi sensor scans skin layers in the finger to authenticate at a sub-epidermal layer. Readability is 360 degrees, so you don’t have to hold your finger at a specific angle for it to work. The 5s’s home button is now made of sapphire crystal for improved durability and sensitivity.

Apple is championing Touch ID as an ultra-secure method of authentication. Security is a huge precaution since it can be used to authenticate iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore purchases. Fingerprint data is encrypted and stored only on the device and not backed up up to iCloud or stored online in any way.

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About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath has been a staff writer at Cult of Mac for over two years. He is also a co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by places like the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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