Touch ID's next big trick may get thumbs wriggling

Touch ID
It's the motion of the ocean

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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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.