5s fingerprint

After a three week hiatus, Apple seeded the 4th beta of iOS 7 to developers this morning. The update brings about a number of UI changes and improvements, but no new features have been spotted yet—until now.

Developer Hamza Sood has discovered some hidden code within the beta that seemingly confirms the rumors that the next generation iPhone will feature a built-in fingerprint sensor…

Here’s the screenshot posted:

beta ios 7 fingerprint

And here’s the code:

– Photo of a person holding an iPhone with their left hand while touching the Home button with their thumb 
– Photo of a person holding an iPhone with their right hand while touching the Home button with their thumb 
– A fingerprint that changes colour during the setup process. 
– Recognition is %@ complete 

This jibes with previous reports that Apple is building a fingerprint sensor into the Home button of its next iPhone. Such rumors have been bouncing around since Apple acquired sensor-export AuthenTec last year.

But this is the first real evidence we’ve seen that Apple is working on such a feature. There’s been a lot of speculation from pundits and industry analysts, but we have yet to see anything concrete by way of part leaks.

If the fingerprint scanner materializes this year, it’ll be interesting to see how Apple implements it. Will it stop iPhone thefts? Save you from having to remember passwords? Save/load settings for multiple users?

What do you think?

Update: 9to5Mac has added some context to the finding, saying that a source familiar with development of the new iPhone has confirmed that the UI for the fingerprint scanning system is ready. The person says the technology is built around unlocking the phone, but it’s unclear what else it will be able to do at launch time.