Apple introduced its Touch ID fingerprint scanner with last year’s iPhone 5s debut, using it for both phone unlocking as well as in place of an entering an Apple ID in the App Store. Reports suggest that this year’s new iPad models will gain a Touch ID sensor, which wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Is that it for Touch ID though? Perhaps not, according to a new patent application from Apple.
Patently Apple uncovered the patent request on Thursday and it shows an drawn iPad with not one, but two example fingerprint sensors. One is integrated into the home button as expected, while a second one is shown connected to the iPad’s headphone port.
Based on the patent application, Apple could embed a Touch ID sensor on an accessory device. Interestingly the patent cites USB as one possible “connector aperture” even though iOS devices have no USB ports. It’s possible then that Apple might expand the use of Touch ID to its Mac computer line of products.
That makes sense since Touch ID is currently used both for authentication to wake a device or to make a software purchase; two activities that apply to Mac OS X as much as they do to iOS. I wouldn’t expect Apple to make a Touch ID reader accessory by itself though. I’d expect a more elegant solution such as an embedded fingerprint scanner in trackpads or keyboards for Macs.