updated 03:39 pm EDT, Mon July 29, 2013
Code string hints at sensor embedded into Home button
Code buried in iOS 7 beta 4 suggests that one or more next-generation iOS devices will indeed have fingerprint sensors, notes AppleInsider. An unused folder in the firmware, discovered by Hamza Sood, is titled "BiometricKitUI.axb." Accompanying code strings moreover make reference to a "Photo of a person holding an iPhone with their right hand while touching the Home button with their thumb," a percentage completion meter for fingerprint recognition, and "a fingerprint that changes colour [sic] during the setup process."
Apple has been expected to add a fingerprint sensor to iOS devices ever since it bought out AuthenTec last year. It was unclear if Apple would have the technology ready for this year however, and indeed Apple could simply be laying the groundwork for 2014 devices. At the same time, rumors have sometimes pointed to an iPhone 5S getting fingerprint recognition, and there would be competitive advantages.
On a basic level the feature could let people unlock an iPhone or iPad without having to enter a passcode. It could also enable multiple user accounts however, since iOS would be able to automatically differentiate users. If Apple brings NFC to the iPhone, if might permit an upgraded Passbook app to make transactions, instead of just store coupons, tickets, and passes.