In some ways, Apple’s new mobile operating system, iOS 8, is learning from some of Android’s best features, like a keyboard that can predict your next words and apps that can more easily talk to one another.
But one of the more notable announcements today at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference is the fact that third-party apps will soon be able to use the fingerprint scanner baked into the latest iPhones.
The technology, called Touch ID, debuted last September with only two Apple-made uses: Touch ID authenticated users to unlock the phone and authorize App Store purchases.
Samsung and HTC have also integrated fingerprint readers into some phone models, but neither has won the kind of praise that Apple has gotten with Touch ID. Adding support for doing more than unlocking phones and buying things on iTunes has been a top request, though.
At WWDC today, Apple said Touch ID would expand to be able to unlock items stored in an iDevice’s keychain. It didn’t give any specific examples, but the keychain is a long-running Apple feature for storing website passwords, so it would follow that password-protected apps will be the first to get the new security option.
Also potentially interesting are uses for e-commerce, since Apple has already established a direct link between one’s prints and the credit card on file with iTunes.
Pre-empting the security question, SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi said fingerprint data is stored within the device’s A7 processor and will never be “exposed to apps or the rest of the system.”
IOS 8 goes out to developers today and will be released to the public in the fall.
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