Apple’s Touch ID is one of the strongest new features of its mobile devices, including iPads, and offers up a new level of security and ease of use while making purchases or even signing into some apps.
As such, Apple’s focus on expanding the functionality of Touch ID should come as no surprise. Indeed, in late 2014 a patent application hinted that Touch ID could be coming to Macs thanks to peripheral devices that could be used to read the owner’s fingerprint. As it stands right now, though, Touch ID is safely housed within the Home button on some iPhones and some iPads, but if a patent application is any indication, that could be changing at some point in the future.
As revealed by AppleInsider, Apple is toying around with the idea of removing Touch ID from the Home button and actually embedding it within the touchscreen display on mobile devices. The new patent application was published on Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and is entitled, “Fingerprint Sensor in an Electronic Device.” With this patent application, the new Touch ID would allow the outfitted device to capture a single fingerprint at a fixed location on the display.
So, as noted in the original report, this means that a third-party application could ask the user to set their finger at a certain spot on the display to activate the Touch ID security. This could also work with the finger being pressed on the display while the handset’s lock screen is activated, which would grant access once the fingerprint is recognized.
This functionality could actually be expanded, too, to not need the pre-determined location at all, which could translate to the fingerprint being read from anywhere on the touchscreen display. Moreover, utilizing the available space on larger iPhones or the iPad, for instance, could mean that more than one fingerprint could be read at one time. That could mean that all five fingerprints could be read from a single hand, or even the palm print.
Interestingly enough, the idea of including a fingerprint sensor/reader within a touchscreen display is not new. In fact, AuthenTec, the company that Apple acquired that heralded the arrival of Touch ID, filed for a patent back in 2013 that outlined the same idea. One could imagine that, with so much development and time behind this particular feature, it might be only a matter of time before it actually becomes a reality.
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