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Future iPhones, iPads could include fingerprint scanner

Apple's acquisition of AuthenTec could mean future iPhone and iPads will have fingerprint scanners, be more enterprise-friendly.

Apple is beefing up its security prowess with the purchase of AuthenTec, a small security company focused on fingerprint sensors and identity management.

On Friday, AuthenTec indicated in an 8-K regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, that they agreed to be acquired by Apple for $356 million. Apple's $8-a-share offer is a 58 percent premium over the stock's Thursday closing price of $5.07.

Why would Apple want AuthenTec? ZDNet's Larry Dignan provided two reasons. First, Apple is increasingly focused on iPhones and iPads being adopted in the enterprise. Improving the security of their devices is seen as key to this process. Second, AuthenTec licenses its technology to several smartphone and computer manufactures, such as Samsung, Lenovo, Nokia, and Motorola. Apple may not have wanted a rival to buy the company.

Image taken from U.S. Patent Publication US 2010/0321158 A1 - Digitized by Google

Regardless of Apple's exact reasons for buying AuthenTec, the purchase could pave the way for fingerprint sensors on future iPhones, iPads, and Macs. In 2010, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from AuthenTec for a "Finger Sensor Having Remote Web Based Notifications". Using this technology, users could log in to a Web site or make an online purchase, by swiping their finger instead of entering a password.

It's possible Apple won't do anything with AuthenTec's fingerprint tech and instead focus on the their identity management and embedded security products. But that seems unlikely, given that fingerprint sensors are AuthenTec's core business.

iPhone 6 users could very well be unlocking their phones and making iTunes purchases with a swipe of their finger.

More on the Apple's purchase of AuthenTec:

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

6 comments
mhoff1387
mhoff1387

I've had them on the last few laptops I've owned, and they're built into all the laptops I support for work, even though our company doesn't use them as an authentication option, and I've NEVER liked them. I've never found them to be reliable or particularly accurate, and I've never had one function smoothly enough that it wasn't just as easy to tap in my password. Anybody else feel the same way?

Gisabun
Gisabun

Just because Apple bought a fingerprint scanning company doesn't mean it will end up on their gadgets. There is room on an iPad but where on an iPhone?

Al_nyc
Al_nyc

As a previous post noted, they are easily bypassed. It also means that now you are making it easy for others to steal your fingerprint information from your phone or ipad.

acmp
acmp

Myth Busters They beat an 'unbeatable' fingerprint scanner with a photo copy! I will not trust fingerprint scanners as they are inherently flawed. They just see an image so any matching image will do and fingerprints are easy to lift and copy.

acmp
acmp

It could possibly be integrated with the home button?

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

If they position Biometric Scanners under where they want you to hold the phone so that it gets a signal it would be a great way to make the people who buy Apple products hold the phone in such a manner that it works and doesn't leave Apple open to Legal Action. Realistically however a few years ago any sensible person would have ask why stick a camera in the back of a iPhone and anywhere where could you fit it? I dare say it will seem straight forward if they where ever to do this. Col