updated 12:20 pm EDT, Fri March 27, 2009
Biometric iPhone security?
Apple may be considering integrating some form of biometric security for iPhones, as well as Macs, a newly-published patent application hints. While iPhones and Macs can currently be locked with passcodes and passwords in turn, the patent filing suggests that a more secure option is desirable. Biometrics are the leading candidate, and could potentially come in the form of a fingerprint or finger vein scanner slipped underneath a touchscreen, capable of unlocking a phone in a single step.
An alternate option could be the inclusion of a forward-mounted camera, which would recognize faces or retinal patterns. Such a camera might theoretically render a phone useless in low-light situations, but could also be used for video calls if supported by carriers. The presence of 7.2Mbps broadband would make the technology more feasible. Macs could duplicate some or all of these security features via integration with trackpads, palmrests and/or webcams; also mentioned is the possibility of voice or even DNA recognition, though the latter is likely unfeasible for a phone or notebook.
Outside of biometrics, Apple proposes using patterned icons on a touchscreen, which could be tapped in a particular sequence or matched in terms of color or shape. Both sets of inventions are credited to Tony Fadell, who helped create the iPod but has since left Apple and been replaced by Mark Papermaster. The application paperwork dates back to September 2008.