The main selling-point that Apple boasts about on the iPhone 5s is Touch ID. Touch ID is supposed to allow iPhone 5s users to unlock their phone faster and easier than typing in a four-digit passcode. There is debate on whether Touch ID is faster, as there have been multiple reports of a inconsistency when unlocking the phone.
Since day one, many users and developers have been yearning for Apple to open up Touch ID in a form of an API, to allow developers to implement Touch ID security into their apps. For example, a banking app may use it to secure information – and whenever the user opens the app, he/she is prompted for their fingerprint.
On the surface, this sounds like a great idea. Not only will it give Apple more boasting rights, but it will make the need for four-digit codes somewhat obsolete. The question that does arise is, how safe is all this? This is the first realistic, all-in approach to fingerprint security, and a lot of users are skeptical.
Apple assures users that their fingerprints are not being uploaded or held on a server, but are being stored locally on the iPhone 5s, which makes the risk of hackers comprising fingerprints a lot lower. Other companies, like Samsung, have recently implemented similar technology into their new Galaxy S5 smartphone. What is interesting about Samsung’s approach is that the fingerprint sensor is open to developers right off the bat.
This comes as an advantage to Samsung. More and more mobile payment applications are popping up using the widely popular Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, so fingerprint security makes the process a lot more streamlined.
In my opinion, I think there needs to be a little more thought put into opening Touch ID up to developers to use in their apps. There was substantial feedback when it was released, and an announcement like this, could get users worried. Apple should investigate on how to make sure apps can’t actually have access to the fingerprints, and build up a nice arsenal of facts on how secure it actually is, to display to potential buyers.
In the end, I do think that allowing developers to play with an API of such could make for some really useful features in many banking, trading, and financial apps. I’m all for it – and I think Apple realizes that they have to tie their camel.