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Apple patents fingerprint scanner on the iPhone screen

Apple has patented a new technology allowing the user to scan a fingerprint on the iPhone screen, rather than using the home button.

The patent application shows fingerprints all over the screen, potentially showing a combination lock for additional security on iPhone and iPads.

Apple and AuthenTec worked on the original fingerprint sensor for iOS devices—named Touch ID—but the current technology does not work on an LCD display.


It is questionable if this patent would ever be implemented on an iOS device, given Touch ID is already renowned as the best-in-class for mobile authentication, and any move to bridge the technology might result in failure.

The acquisition of AuthenTec in 2012 did mean Apple was serious about security however, having additional ways to authorise a device or application could work wonders for the company in the enterprise field.

Apple does have a tendency to patent proof-of-concept ideas and not do anything with the patents however, meaning this might never come to any iOS device.

In the meantime, Apple will continue to make Touch ID more readily available to third-party app developers. Applications like Dropbox already utilise the feature when opening the app, offering more security to the cloud storage service.

Fingerprint sensors were a big thing in 2014, but the lack of successful sensors lead most fans off the tech. Motorola's ex-CEO Dennis Woodside gave some insight as to why all the rest of the fingerprint sensors failed in a recent interview, claiming since Apple acquired AuthenTec all the rest had to find worse alternatives.

It is unclear if Samsung and HTC will continue to test their own fingerprint sensors on the next devices, considering the failures of both in 2013 and 2014.

David has been a technology journalist for over six years, covering a wide range of sectors. He currently researches apps, app sectors and app markets for Business of Apps, and has written for ITProPortal, RTInsights, ReadWrite, and Digital Trends.