Touch ID and Apple Pay



    Humans may have known that everyone has unique fingerprints long ago, because there is evidence of the ancient Babylonians pressing their finger into clay to mark business transactions. In 19th century we began to use fingerprints to identify criminals. The Japanese police used the first Automated Fingerprint Identification System in the 1980s, which soon enabled law enforcement officials around the world to crosscheck a fingerprint with millions of others in the database almost instantly. In 2013, Apple released the iPhone 5S with a home button unlike any of the iPhones before it. The home button is actually what Apple calls “touch ID”, and is a way of unlocking your phone by using your fingerprint. This year, Apple released the iPhone 6, 6 plus, and iPad Air 2 with this same home button, as well as announced “Apple Pay”, a way of using your fingerprint in place of a debit or credit card, pin, and signature.

Touch ID Diagram


Touch ID setup

    Touch ID uses a capacitive touch sensor similar to what is used in the iPhone’s display. Capacitive touch screens use the electrical properties of our bodies to detect when and where on a display our finger touches.  The actual sensor behind the button is capable of scanning your finger at 500 pixels per inch, and is covered by laser cut sapphire crystal. This technology makes the sensor very accurate in reading fingerprints and very difficult to scratch, which would make it less effective. The user has the option to use Touch ID or to set a traditional passcode.

    To set up Touch ID, the user simply has to tap the home button several times before the phone remembers it. Apple also claims that every time you unlock your phone, Touch ID becomes smarter and more accurate. Users are able to enter more than one fingerprint if they wish. This data is stored to the processor, not anywhere in Apple’s servers or cloud.

Security Issues

Many people are worried about Apple Pay because it involves their finances. Apple done their best to make sure their system is secure since it is a growing technology that could change the way everyone pays for things. To register a card to your phone, you take a picture of it, which is sent to your bank. You then get a special key only for your phone that when you checkout, creates a random code that is used only in that one transaction. Here is what some who have investigated Apple's technology say:

“Having a third party involved in your transactions actually makes it easier to dispute illegitimate charges than if the money had already been taken out of your bank account.” -Iain Murray of CNBC

"It is safe to say that Apple reshaped the music and phone industry, Touch ID and Apple Pay could reshape the payment industry the same way." - Jose Pagliery of CNN

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