Touch ID coming to iPads, iOS code hooks suggest

By , Apr 25, 2014

Touch ID Home button

There’s hardly any doubt at this point that Apple will roll out its Touch ID fingerprint reader to all iOS devices sooner than later. As you know, the sophisticated fingerprint sensor debuted last September as an iPhone 5s exclusive and is based on technologies from Israeli startup AuthenTec that got acquired by Apple for the reported $356 million in the summer of 2012.

While Apple was originally rumored to bring fingerprint-scanning to its tablet lineup, its manufacturing partner TSMC was unable to build enough of the sensors for the iPhone 5s alone, causing handset shortages after the launch.

Notable mentions of Touch ID for the iPad have been discovered in the iOS code, indicating an upcoming iPad hardware refresh might include the fingerprint sensor. It’s worth pointing out that iOS code frequently contains placeholders and hooks for unreleased features that never see the light of day. This is not the first time Apple’s code references Touch ID for iPads but we felt you should know about this…

A French iOS developer was able to find a reference to the iPad family in Touch ID’s resources, as evidenced on his screenshot below.

Touch ID for iPad (iOS reference)

Mentions of Touch ID for both the iPhone and iPad were spotted in strings for a BiometricKit framework that deals with the user interface which enables scanning of a fingerprint on the Home button.

BiometricKit first appeared in the iOS 7 Beta 4 SDK files.

iOS 7 Beta 4 SDK (BiometricKit)
Image via Hamza Sood.

A text string accompanying the ‘BiometricKitUI.axbundle’ folder describes an image showing a person “holding an iPhone with their right hand while touching the Home button with their thumb.”

BiometricKit was later removed from the iOS 7 Beta 5 SDK, though smaller traces of it did appear in subsequent SDK releases.

The framework in question is private because Apple currently does not expose Touch ID functionality to third-party developers for security and privacy reasons.

Sources claim that Apple is “very, very serious” about a mobile payment solution. If there’s indeed an Apple-branded mobile payments service in the works, Touch ID should be a major part of that.

Coupled with Passbook/iBeacon and the more than 800 million iTunes accounts, most with credit card on file, Apple is almost certainly going to use Touch ID as a secure authentication method to approve payments other than purchases in its digital content stores.

According to Apple’s boss Tim Cook, mobile payments were “one of the thoughts behind Touch ID.” Now, chatter coming out of Apple’s supply chain suggests the firm has commissioned TSMC to start manufacture of Touch IDs for the next iPhone this summer, in time for a rumored Fall release of the handset.

TSMC is said to be building the sensors at its twelve-inch fab using a 65-nanometer process technology, according to a January report by the Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes. The report doesn’t mention Touch ID for iPads.

TSMC, or Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, is an exclusive manufacturer of Touch ID sensors for the iPhone 5s. The world’s largest independent semiconductor foundry, TSMC is rumored to start building future iPhone and iPad processors soon as Apple looks to break its dependency on Samsung for components.

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  • Jonathan

    Hello. iPod Touch here.

    • NekoMichi Kobayashi

      iPod touch is covered under the same device family number as iPhone, which makes it impossible to tell from here if iPod touch will get Touch ID this year (let alone if there even will be a new model considering the drop in iPod sales).

      Might find clues from system string files though.

    • Linton Findlay

      lol can see it now iPod Touch ID

      • Jonathan

        lol good one xD

  • Andrew

    When they unveiled they iPad Air I was like “wtf, why is there no Touch ID?”

    • Sean Clark

      The same reason they’ll unveil the next iPad Air and we’ll be like “wtf, why is there no sapphire display?”

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        Just like when we see iOS 8 at WWDC we’ll be like “wtf why is there still no quick reply”

        Apple will add new hardware and software features at their own pace…

      • CODENAME_CAFE

        “it’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Steve Jobs ;)

      • smtp25

        Ahh that’s not the reason. They add in the 2nd revision to hook the people who didn’t buy the first one and make it look they are adding new things even though they could have been added day one.

      • Andrew

        Eggsactly.

  • hkgsulphate

    not surprising

  • kurt

    In my opinion, I wouldn’t even use the touch ID. I use the smart cover and when I open the cover obviously it goes straight to the home screen, I feel that pass codes and what not slow that whole process down. I just feel the pass codes slow down what the smart cover was designed for. Again that is just my opinion, I know everyone is different on that.

    • Andrew

      Not if you want a secure iPad ;)
      Also, the point of the smart cover (according to Apple) is to turn on the screen without pressing a physical button, but I still agree with you.

  • http://facebook.com/lodigabriel Gabriel Lodi

    Touch ID is a technology for the future. The importance that this will have in mobile payment is gigantic. Apple did it right and did it first, something not ordinary for them.
    But NFC is still needed for this to work.

    • Jeffrey

      Don’t think I’m an Android fan for saying this, but iPhone wasn’t really the first smartphone with a fingerprint scanner, the Motorola Atrix was.. It IS the first good one though…

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      Why is NFC needed when Apple can just use the tried and tested technology used in AirDrop?

      • http://facebook.com/lodigabriel Gabriel Lodi

        Because you need Wi-Fi to do it.
        NFC is a much wider option, could easily be implemented and it’s secure.

        I don’t trust transfer my credit card data through Wi-Fi.

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        “I don’t trust transfer my credit card data through Wi-Fi.”

        (Despite the fact that TLS / SSL is secure) I take it you don’t shop online then…

    • Andrew

      Ummm they weren’t the first to bring a fingerprint scanner to a mobile phone/device…
      but it’s not about getting a product first, it’s about getting a product right.

  • Jose Gonzalez

    Hey guys, bit off topic but is there any way to disable the press of the home button? Ive tried activator but it doesn’t give you the “Do Nothing” action. Even if I try substituting the single press action, it still goes back to home and then does the substituted action. I use VirtualHome, so I’m just trying to deter myself from pressing the home button. Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

    • Likii111

      Iphone 5s?

      • Jose Gonzalez

        Yes, 7.0.6.

      • Likii111

        Can u explain me again what do u want to do? U want to not use Physical Home button? Instead u want to use virtual home button via Activator

      • Jose Gonzalez

        Disable the Home Button from doing anything when pressed. For example, I’m in an app, I press the home button and nothing happens. I’m on the lock screen while its shut off, press the home button and nothing happens. Or I’m on the second page of the home screen, press the home button and again, nothing happens. Keep in mind VirtualHome allows me to do all these actions without pressing the button.

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        Activator –> Anywhere –> Single press / double press / hold / etc –> Do Nothing…

      • Jose Gonzalez

        “Do Nothing” is not available for single press in Activator.

      • Likii111

        Activator > anywhere > Fingerprint sensor “single press” then go to this (look picture) “Stimula Home Button”

      • Jose Gonzalez

        That is to tap on the sensor, That is not what I need. I need:
        Activator > Anywhere > Home Button > Single Press > Do Nothing
        But that is not available.

      • Likii111

        Sorry but i dont understand you, u dont want to use Home Button ?

      • Jose Gonzalez

        Exactly, I want it to “Do Nothing” when I PRESS the Home Button.

      • Likii111

        Ohh i understood now ! Just asking but why u dont want to use Home Button? Just dont press?

      • Jose Gonzalez

        Because I use the tweak Virtual Home. By disabling the Home Button, it would help me to get used to not pressing the button.

      • Jose Gonzalez

        I don’t want to use the physical button. And no, I use the tweak called Virtual Home by Moeseth.

  • Likii111

    Any solution with 7.1.1 about this issue?

  • Batman

    Smooth

  • David Gitman

    finally

  • ProfessorX1®

    No new news.

    • Freddy Born

      mind blown

  • Freddy Born

    uh duh?