Apple’s iPhone 5s includes a wealth of exciting new hardware features, but whilst we’ve been more than impressed by the new 64-bit A7 processor, much has been made of the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Allowing iPhone users to unlock their devices without going through the tiresome rigmarole of typing in a passcode, it has been a big hit in its short lifespan, and according to a recent patent filing by Apple, could be about to get even better.
Filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization as opposed to the USPTO, the patent details a Touch ID-like implementation that also brings trackpad functionality into play, potentially allowing a user to navigate around without touching the display. This would, on first viewing, seem counterproductive, but when one considers certain situations – fine-tuning a point on a map, for example – it could actually make a great deal of sense.
When we first heard of the iPhone 5s being kitted out with a fingerprint sensor, there were naturally a few skeptics, but having now established itself as a very useful feature, it looks as though Apple is ready to step things up a gear.
The Touch ID patent also makes example of how a user could use certain gestures like “revolving” or “twisting” to prompt certain actions. Considering how accustomed we’re becoming to making certain gestures anyhow, Touch ID offers an extra dimension beyond the display, and if something similar to this recent filing were to come into play, iOS as a whole could be greatly enhanced.
The patent also toys with the idea of integrating Touch ID into a device’s display, although this is something we were hearing about in the run-up to the iPhone 5s. Theoretically, the technology could be designated to any particular region behind the display, taking the fingerprint sensing capability beyond the home button and into third-party apps.
Whether any of these ideas see the light of day remains to be seen, but Touch ID is, at its current duration, a rather basic feature, and we would naturally expect, given time, that it will be improved to include some of the functionality detailed in the above patent filings.
We have high hopes that the feature will make its way onto the next generation of iPads, after being exclusive to the iPhone 5s for a good one year.