July 28, 2012: Apple announces that it is buying biometrics company AuthenTec, ushering in the technology that allows Apple to introduce Touch ID one year later.
Coming with a price tag of $356 million, the deal gives Apple to right to use AuthenTec hardware, software and patents. In the immediate term, Apple engineers start working to build Touch ID sensors into the iPhone 5s. Longer-term, AuthenTec’s mobile wallet tech paves the way for Apple Pay.
We have heard a lot of rumors and leaks over the last year that Apple would install a fingerprint sensor underneath the home button of the iPhone 5S this year, but what does the leaked hardware actually say?
Earlier this week, a number of images were posted showing the part for a new iPhone 5S home button and associated flex cable… and it was radically different than previous home button configurations.
But does it confirm the iPhone 5S has a fingerprint sensor? iFixIt CEO Kyle Wiens sure thinks so.
Looks like iOS 7 Beta 4 just conclusively outed the fact that Apple is planning on putting a fingerprint sensor underneath the home button of the iPhone 5S: strings found in iOS 7 Beta 4’s BiometricKitUI.axbundle make reference to an iOS 7 tutorial which will reference a “photo of a person holding an iPhone with their right hand while touching the Home button with their thumb” and “a fingerprint that changes colour during the setup process.”
When a user of an iPhone 5S is setting up their iPhone to recognize their fingerprint, they will get a message saying that “Recogition is X% complete”, where X% is presumably a progress bar filling in.
Hamza Sood has found a lot of hidden iOS settings in the past, so he’s got a good track record. This looks pretty legit, and we all knew Apple acquired Authentec for a reason, and that fingerprint sensors were coming to iOS devices. This is our first peek, though, at how they will be realized, with typical Apple simplicity.
Here’s an interesting patent. While hype and rumor has suggested that when Apple introduces a fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5S, it’ll be placed under the home button, Apple’s actually patented something much different: technology that would allow an iPhone to detect your fingerprint just by pressing your finger against the screen.
This makes a lot of sense. Not only is it a more elegant place to put a fingerprint sensor — and Apple loves elegance — but it explains the redesigned iOS 7 lock screen, and the way ‘Slide to Unlock’ has been de-emphasized. We’ll see!
The iPhone 5S could come with a sapphire crystal capacitive touch home button that incorporates a new fingerprint sensor, according to supply chain sources in Taiwan.
Apple is expected to do away with the traditional physical home button, which has long been one of the most unreliable components on iOS devices. It’s thought that using sapphire crystal, which has a hardness second only to diamond, will prevent the button from getting scratched and ruining the fingerprint sensor.