In the past few years, fingerprint readers on phones and tablets have come into and out of style a few times, and are even seen occasionally on laptops. Despite there being a TouchID sensor on iPhones since the 5s, and on the newest iPads, it still hasn’t been seen on any of the desktops or laptops from Apple. That may change with the approval of a patent filed in 2007 for just such an improvement, according to Patently Apple.
The patent, which is lovingly named “Finger sensing apparatus using hybrid matching and associated methods” describes in detail how the apparatus works, but more interesting than the technical details of the project, is the diagram used to show it off.
As you can see from Figure 1, a fingerprint reader (14) is used to grant access to this very old Apple computer (10). No modern Mac design language is used, possibly to prevent limiting the scope of the patent to a specific computer. The patent also lists a variety of methods which Apple might use to take a fingerprint reading, and makes it clear that any of these sensors could basically be mounted anywhere on any desktop or laptop. It’s certainly not a lot to go on if you were hoping to surmise some details about the next MacBook.
With Microsoft including a fingerprint reader in the new keyboard for the Surface Pro 3 and 4, it stands to reason that Apple might follow suit sometime soon. That being said, Apple recently announced the Magic Mouse 2, Magic Trackpad 2, and Magic Keyboard, but none of them boast fingerprint authentication as a feature.
Both companies have been looking for ways to abandon the password, a security system with some inherent flaws, mostly in that the security of the user is put into their own hands. Features like biometric authentication and PINs help keep data safe, while also taking away the memory function of a long password. We hope to see what Apple has planned for TouchID in Macs soon.