Touch ID: is your finger the key to the future?

"First impressions imply Apple has overcome this problem, which could lead to wider acceptance in other CE devices and by other device makers."

Fingerprint sensing security isn't perfect, and we don't know yet whether a lifted fingerprint (from the back of the case, perhaps) would be enough to unlock the iPhone 5S.

Your average pickpocket doesn't carry a forensics kit along with him, but we'll have to wait and see how robust Touch ID is — brace yourselves for plenty of in-depth hacking attempts in the tech press over the coming weeks ("How To Unlock An iPhone 5s With A Biro And Sellotape").

At this stage, we just don't know how strong Apple's tech is — our initial impressions are that Touch ID works "incredibly well", but it's still early days.

Will it make a difference?

Apple is touting Touch ID primarily as a more secure version of the passcode and according to Senior Vice President Phil Schiller only half of us ever bother setting up a passcode anyway. The next time someone steals your phone in the street, they'll either have to take your finger along with them or force you to unlock it first.

It saves you from forgetting your passcode and reduces the security risk caused by users who set up the same code on all of their devices and services for convenience's sake. Even if hacks to circumvent Touch ID eventually come to light, it's still a significant upgrade in terms of the security of your iPhone.

iPhone 5s - Touch ID

The button which is also a scanner

However, it's also about ease-of-use and unlocking your mobile with one press rather than four or five. With its tight iTunes integration you'll be able to get new apps, movies and music without having to enter your Apple password each time.

Further down the line we might see Apple embedding the technology in iCloud, on your Mac or even in high street retail stores to let you prove you are who you say you are. From there, it's obvious how the principle could extent to banking or mobile payments (think Passbook, for example).

Ian Hogg, Director of Mobile Analysis at IHS Electronics & Media, explained that iOS7 has a big part to play too: "Mobile security that protects a handset is important to secure the information that users have on their device - banking passwords, purchase histories, email addresses, contacts.

"Apple is adding significant new features that make it harder for a thief to circumvent 'find my phone' and 'remote wipe' features."

iPhone 5S - TouchID

For the time being though a revolution in biometrics is still some way off. For now, Touch ID makes it easier to use your iPhone and keeps it more secure at the same time. Only if and when the technology expands beyond your personal handset will its safety be seriously called into question.

"The concern some users may have, as with the current furore over online services," adds Tony Cripps, "is more that Apple itself might volunteer user information seemingly protected behind that fingerprint to government agencies. How consumers ultimately choose to respond to such concerns in the long run is yet to be seen."

It seems everyone agrees that we need a safer replacement for passwords. Tattoos and pills have been touted as possible personal identification solutions of the future, but the launch of the iPhone 5s has put fingerprint sensing technology back in the spotlight.

Only when the phone is out and being put through its paces will we know just how well it works and how far users are ready to trust it.

Here's everything you need to know about the iPhone 5S:

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.