The Wall Street Journal late on Monday night confirmed that the iPhone 5S - set to be introduced in about 12 hours - will in fact come with a fingerprint authorization sensor built into the home button.
Placing a finger on a computer or smartphone has long been proposed as a way to avoid the need for passwords to authenticate users of computers and other devices. People familiar with the matter said last week that Apple will include a fingerprint scanner on the more expensive of two iPhones it is expected to unveil Tuesday at an event at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.
Apple acquired the technology, if you recall, when it snatched up AuthenTec for approximately $356 million in cash back in July of 2012. At the time, AuthenTec was highly regarded for its fingerprint sensors on mobile devices. And now an addiitional layer of security will be coming to the iPhone.
Unfortuantely, it would seem that the only use for it, at least at first, will be as an authentication method for device access. In other words, don't expect fingerprint authorization to be linked up with NFC for mobile payments just yet.
The Journal notes that with Apple leading the charge in fingerprint authorization, other competitors in the mobile handset space will soon follow suit. While that may very well be the case, those competing offerings, if history is any indication, will be second-rate.
Motorola Mobility LLC, a unit of Google, included a fingerprint sensor in its Atrix 4G phone in 2011. The company stopped using the sensors because, among other reasons, costumers complained about scanner errors and many didn't use the feature, a person familiar with the matter said.
Admittedly, most consumers do not use passcodes on their iOS devices, and it remains to be seen if that is poised to change now that fingerprint sensors will be introduced to the masses in just a few weeks.
Apple tomorrow will also likely introduce the iPhone 5C, a lower-cost version of the iPhone comprised of cheaper materials and meant for emerging markets and more price-conscious consumers. The iPhone 5C is set to come in a variety of colors as well.