Apple exploring panic mode for Touch ID

By , Nov 5, 2015

iPhone 6 space gray Touch ID

Apple has submitted a new patent application with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) Thursday that would make the iPhone more secure by allowing users to place their device in a lock-down mode simply by putting a certain finger on the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

Titled “fingerprint activation of a panic mode of operation for a mobile device,” it describes unlocking a Touch ID device with a specific finger to activate a special lock-down mode that would make personal data stored on the device inaccessible to the user, or activate different modes of operation based on the particular fingerprints.

In another embodiment, the panic mode could be set up to start recording video or take photos of the person using the phone, which could be useful in cases of theft.

In others, panic mode could even trigger the iPhone’s microphone and transmit both video and audio to emergency response providers, such as a nearest police station, hospital or other relevant agencies.

This could be useful as both theft deterrent or a life-saver in situations when a user’s life or wellbeing might be threatened.

“Depending on the fingerprint that was captured, a particular action may be carried out when the device is unlocked. In one example, a fingerprint of an index finger may indicate that a call is to be placed,” Apple writes.

“When the fingerprint of the user’s index finger is captured, when the mobile device is unlocked, a telephone application may be launched to allow the user to place a call after the mobile device has been unlocked.”

Panic mode could include a follow-up call mechanism to permit emergency service providers to check in with the user periodically via voice or SMS and alert the authorities if no response is received.

Apple goes on to further explore using the iPhone’s GPS and cellular network triangulation to help track the user’s location in panic mode in case of an emergency, without requiring any additional input from the person that activated the panic mode.

Apple patent Touch ID panic mode drawing 001

Moreover, the device in panic mode could automatically call 911 to notify law enforcement and provide your location to alert emergency service providers of possible emergencies. In panic mode, your iPhone could even send distress signals using multiple mechanisms, such as SMS, phone calls, GPS and cellular locators.

“If the user confirms that there is an emergency, or if contact with the user cannot be established, the mobile device may make contact with the emergency service providers immediately or after a pre-defined delay period expires,” reads the patent abstract.

The patent application credits Apple engineer Karthik Sudhir as its inventor.

Source: USPTO

  • Share:
  • Follow:
  • White Michael Jackson

    What about a disable power off from lockscreen without fingerprint authentication?

    • Pokeh321

      That wouldn’t help. Most people know that lock and home will power off.

      • White Michael Jackson

        that reboot the device. they need to remove the restore mode and dfu mode of the devices also. Even though it would take a while to shut down the idevice (fingerprint to unlock then shut down) I would much rather the extra added security.

      • Pokeh321

        That doesn’t only reboot the device. If done short enough it will only turn it off.

      • Shadowelite123

        You do realize that iCloud lock activates the moment you restore an iDevice. Even in DFU mode it does it. Once the device powers on, the iCloud service continues and it continues to be traceable.

    • BioProtect does that 🙂

      • Ángel Javier Esquivel

        But when you buy a new phone with an unsupported version of iOS, you’ll want it on stock iOS

      • Platy

        But you never buy a new phone with an unsupported version of iOS 🙂 – I presume we are talking about a non-jailbroken version…

      • Ángel Javier Esquivel

        That was the point, indeed, non-jailbroken

      • ARX8

        Blocked + Bioprotect + Activator + passcodeactivator = total safety

  • I have something like that already set up using Activator. I don’t use my index finger for Touch ID unlocking, so it’s set up to detect my index finger as the trigger. Once triggered, the phone immediately calls 999.

    • DTT255

      How did you accomplish this? Please explain. Thanks

      • Seere Petrova

        the last one can be achieved with bioprotect

      • This requires a jailbroken device with Activator installed.

        I created a contacts entry for 999 and then registered my index finger under Touch ID. Under Activator’s Touch ID settings, I set it so that my index finger is the event, and it triggers the action of calling the 999 contact.

        As for the power down lock, under Activator > Locked > Sleep button > Long hold, I set the gesture to display a custom message (use the “Build” feature in Activator to create custom messages). This will automatically override the power down slider on the lock screen.

      • Gary LE

        So how would i get Activator?

        I am new to jailbraking and I just installed cydia using the most tecent Pangu jb.

        Cydia seems confusing on where/how to install new free apps. Any help or guides would be nice thanks.

    • Similar story here, I have set Activator to ignore power button hold on the lock screen and disabled NC & CC on LS as well.

      Having the index finger immediately dial 999 seems a bit risky tho – I guess you can cancel the call if you do it accidentally anyway.

      • You’re right, it’s kind of risky. I could change it so that the index finger opens up a prompt asking whether or not to dial 999 instead of immediately dialling though. Will probably reduce the chances of accidentally calling them.

  • iBanks

    Guessing one must be quick with the finger if they are getting robbed of their iPhone and need to activate panic mode with their pinky finger.

  • Bangali

    This just screams MULTIPLE USERS!!!!! to me..the other applications are great too but multiple users is one thing people have been crying out for..

    • socrates

      Reminded me of the tweak called Guest Mode.

      • Shadowelite123

        Multiple users is similar to guest mode but not the same.

      • socrates

        I realize that, I was stating that it reminded me of GuestMode, (due to the OS X login feature).

  • Bugs Bunnay

    Similar can be done with activator, with more options.

  • Digitalfeind

    Love the ads from this.

  • Why did they file a patent for this? They seem really patent-happy