Theft of smartphones is still rampant, despite current security measures such as fingerprint technology and Apple’s Touch ID. Thieves always find a way around these security protocols. However, a patent application by Apple will make life difficult for iPhone and iPad thieves in the future.

Touch ID
Image: Apple Insider

Apple filed a patent with the USPTO on 25 August 2016. The patent details a technology that will allow a “trigger condition” to record the biometric, photos, audio, and video of an authorized user of a “computing device”, in this case, an iPhone or iPad, which are currently the only Apple devices that can capture biometrics. The technology will then store the acquired data which may be fingerprints, photos, and so on. The computing device may then provide the stored data for identification of the unauthorized user.

From the information in the filed patent, the trigger conditions are unclear. Probably the trigger is a report by the authorized user to law enforcement authorities or Apple. Or maybe a single failed attempt to unlock the device using touch ID will be the trigger. However, there is a slight problem with Apple’s Touch ID. The technology requires a user to place the finger in different angles for verification. It is, therefore, a little unclear how Apple will register a failed unlock attempt(s) as a trigger condition.

The fact that the patent suggests Apple will stealthily capture personal identifier data already raises security concerns. A more practical move would be to make the technology optional in future iOS releases. But even then we are not sure that would not make the company lose credibility among customers who mind about their privacy.

Anyway, let us keep in mind this is only a patent application that may never see the light of day. Stay tuned for more information on this.


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