Does iPhone really need fingerprint scanner security?

Published: March 31, 2009

Digging into another Apple patent filing, Apple Insider discovered a reference to some really crazy biometric security stuff for the iPhone. The patent - which was filed back in September and only recently published - covers fingerprint authentication via a sensor lodged beneath the touchscreen, retinal identification (using the camera), voice recognition security and DNA sampling for access via genetic code matching.

Reading this, I was suddenly reminded of those hokey iPhone apps with fake fingerprint scanners that display messages like "Hotness Detected" or some other dumb thing. The idea is similar, except that these security features would actually work.

              

I used to look at those apps wistfully and think, "It would be neat if they really worked for authentication." But now? Meh. I'd rather have Flash on my phone, along with better battery life and real background processes.

So maybe the real news is not that Apple's considering hot, future-forward security; it's that the company still has some important, basic features to address, ones that the phone needs to remain competitive. Don't get me wrong - iPhone 3.0 is a huge step in the right direction, but many of the neat new features in there actually should've been available out of the box a long time ago. And there's still work to do, not for future phones, but for the current handsets we're all using now. Where's the patent addressing that?

I am still an Apple fan, of the diehard variety. But I?m also just as much a critic, thus fueling my love/hate relationship with this brand. And this news sure doesn't help. With so many new handsets on the horizon that are looking shiny and new, it's getting hard to stay loyal.

For now, I'll let AppleInsider ponder the 12th generation iPhone, and leave Engadget to investigate minor points, like why the patent filings include sketches of jailbroken apps (below). (What's that all about?). As for me, June is the furthest I'm looking into the iPhone future, when the hotly anticipated new handset will likely debut.