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It has long since been rumored that the next-gen iPhone may include a fingerprint sensor on the Home button, but a new Apple patent published today suggests it could in fact be integrated into the device’s display. Every new iPhone must have its marquee feature, and with the fingerprint sensor set to take this weight upon its shoulders this time around, it would seem Apple has been hard at work preparing the implementation for prime time.

As well as being used for convenient purpose of unlocking  the device, the fingerprint sensor may also collaborate with the purported NFC support to provide a more secure shopping experience, and whether one considers a fingerprint scanner to be a gimmick or not, it would certainly give the on-looking tech world something to talk about should it be delivered in the next-gen Apple smartphone.

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Fingerprint sensor, traditionally, follow a fairly uniform design pattern, with many notebooks and ultra books offering this feature as standard. Smartphone vendors haven’t yet adopted, with some third parties offering to add a fingerprint sensor after point of sale. This would present a prime opportunity to Apple to really get one up on its competitors, and with this patent shedding light on an entirely new way of going about implementing such a feature, the next-gen iPhone could have a significant advantage upon hitting the scene.

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The way the technology works is simple, at least to the end user. An iPhone owner would place their finger on the touch-screen display, and specialized technology then analyzes the print "pixel-by-pixel" to surmise whether it belongs to the owner. Presumably, it will be very accurate, particularly if there are plans for purchase verifications to be made through the new system. That said, Apple is never that keen to jump on a new technology without allowing rivals to play the role of guinea pig, so it will be interesting to see whether Apple will, in fact, be delivering the fingerprint sensor in the near future.

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Current reports suggest the iPhone 5S is subject to delay thanks to a larger, 4.3-inch screen, and if the device is in fact unable to make the previously presumed Sept-Oct release period, perhaps Apple will also throw in this new fingerprint sensor by way of apology?

(via: PatentlyApple)

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