Touch ID's next big trick may get thumbs wriggling

Unlock your next iPhone with taps and gestures

Touch ID, the fingerprint-sensing technology Apple ushered in with the iPhone 5S, has simplified the process of securely unlocking today's iPhones and iPads, but the Cupertino company wants to take the tech further.

A new patent filing unearthed by Patently Apple reveals the firm's plans to add motion input to a Touch ID-enabled Home button — essentially, you'd be able to draw out a pin code to unlock your device without touching the screen.

The diagrams accompanying Apple's filing show a user drawing out a pattern on top of the Home button as well as rotating his or her finger to unlock a safe combination code displayed on the phone's screen.

Touch ID

Wiggle it about

If the upgrade does make its way into a future iPhone then it would add an extra layer of protection to what is already a very secure biometric system.

The patent application's full title is the rather wordy - "Electronic Device Switchable to a User-Interface Unlocked Mode Based Upon a Pattern of Input Motions and Related Methods" - and it's credited to AuthenTec co-founder Dale R. Setlak. Fact fans may remember AuthenTec was the company Apple acquired in 2012 to provide the foundation for Touch ID.

The filing states that the invention is designed to make devices more secure while keeping access convenient: "The electronic device may more quickly switch to the user-interface unlocked mode."

However, as with all patents, there's no guarantee it'll see the light of day. We'll just have to cross our fingers that this will happen - then wiggle them around a bit.

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