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The latest version of the Apple iPad is due to be announced at an event later today, and according to Gizmodo, the Californian tech company is planning on bringing the fingerprint security system implemented in recent iPhones to its tablet market for the first time.
The site reports that both the upcoming iPad Air 2 and more diminutive iPad Mini 3 will come with Touch ID – the Apple system that allows users to unlock their devices and make purchases in iTunes, the App Store and iBookstore with a recognized finger print. The evidence for this comes from a user guide for both the upcoming devices accidentally appearing in iTunes and clearly marking the Touch ID sensor.
If it’s like the Touch ID on iPhones, it will sit in the same area as the plastic home button, and work – as The Telegraph says – “like a traditional flatbed scanner you’d use for scanning photographs.” The existing Touch ID technology is 170 microns thin and scans at 500ppi, considerably higher than the 326ppi resolution the iPhone 6 displays. This differs from the technology used by other manufacturers – such as Samsung’s Galaxy S5, where you have to swipe along a sensor.
The additional security is a popular addition to handsets, and the market for fingerprint sensors is due to grow four-fold in the next six years, according to DigiTimes. “Fingerprint sensors have arrived in force and we are forecasting that shipments of fingerprint-enabled handsets and tablets will reach 1.4 billion units by 2020. This is more than quadruple the 317 million units expected to be shipped by the end of 2014,” Marwan Boustany, senior analyst at IHS Technology for MEMS and sensors told the site.
Although these sensors offer an extra layer of security, at this stage they are still not 100% secure, with manual hacks – albeit quite unwieldy ones – demonstrated to unlock both the iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy S5 reported by us earlier in the year. Stephen Cobb, a security researcher with ESET pointed out at the time that these hacks would only be considered by the most determined hackers: “Bear in mind the effort required to defeat the biometric, and also to crack your iPhone password, then ask yourself how many people want your iPhone data that badly.”
Author Alan Martin, ESET