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Apple To Store Fingerprints On Cloud?

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Wednesday, May 6th, 2015


Apple is rumored to be working on a new technology that will allow it to sync your fingerprint data across multiple devices and point-of-sale systems. The proposed system will work by storing Touch ID data on iCloud and then syncing it across multiple devices as and when needed. The company recently filed a patent entitled “Finger biometric sensor data synchronization via a cloud computing device and related methods” with the US Patent and Trademark Office that shows how users can register their Touch ID on one device, upload it on the cloud and then use it on other devices.

Touch ID was introduced as an unbreakable security feature for Apple devices in 2013. Making its debut with iPhone 5S, the feature allows the users to register their fingerprint with iPhone or iPad and then use it for unlocking the device. Using the feature ensures that your private data remains unavailable to criminals even if you happen to lose your iPad or iPhone. With the launch of Apple Pay payment system, the Touch ID feature has become even more important since it allows you to make payments just by pressing your thumb against the phone’s fingerprint sensor.

While the current system works great as a security feature, it could also be cumbersome for those who have access to multiple Apple devices. For instance, if you share your iPhone or iPad with your family members then each member needs to register his/her fingerprint on all the shared devices to be able to unlock them. With the proposed cloud synchronization technology, you won’t have to register your Touch ID for each and every device; you can register your fingerprint just once and use it across multiple devices and point-of-sale systems.

The proposed cloud synchronization feature would also be a marked departure from how the Touch ID works currently. As of now, the fingerprint data remains on the device and is not transferred to the cloud or Apple’s servers under any circumstances. With the new technology, you would need to verify your Apple ID before registering the fingerprint. And before you could use your fingerprint on a second device, you would need to verify the usage with a second set of fingerprints that are already registered for the device. This can also be extended to payments systems where the point-of-sale could have a fingerprint sensor.

While the idea sounds great in theory, Apple would need to convince the users that their fingerprint data would remain safe on the cloud. Just last year, the company had to deal with bad press when nude pictures of several celebrities were stolen from their iCloud accounts and then leaked online. Apple has mentioned in its patent filing that fingerprint data would be encrypted before being sent to iCloud servers but this is unlikely to convince everyone. Since a fingerprint is totally unique for each and every person and is much more personal than say an embarrassing photo, people would be hesitant to use the feature even if Apple decides to launch it in the near future.


May 6, 2015
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