Trust Apple’s long-term vision
The resistance to Touch ID seems mainly based around the idea that “it doesn’t do everything already, so it’s a useless toy”. Sure, its limited implementation makes it a bit gimmicky now, but even as a simple password replacement Touch ID is better than security techniques most people aren’t using.
John argues that that it’s irrelevant because it lacks developer support, but this is short-sighted and unimaginative. Apple never does anything without a long-term plan, and I can guarantee it has not introduced a significant and prominent new sensor that will only function as an ineffectual toy.
It wasn’t too long ago, remember, that iOS didn’t even support multitasking. When Apple introduced that feature, it gave developers just a few multi-threaded service categories to prevent bad apps from compromising the user experience. The company knows there’s no point introducing a feature just to tick a box; poorly implemented, Touch ID could kill fingerprint biometrics’ potential forever.
That’s why Apple will steadily expand Touch ID’s relevance and capabilities by introducing the feature in the iPhone 5S, then expanding it to other devices and adding new developer hooks in iOS 7.1 and beyond. E-commerce, user authentication, gaming, whatever: give it a chance. Once users, businesses and developers get creative with Touch ID, today’s naysayers will be eating their words.
Apple lives on an island
Speculation is cheap and that’s all that defines Touch ID’s future.
Today, it is a walled-off pilot program to scope any future uses. To believe Apple can solve one of computing’s all-time vexing issues with a single stroke of genius is short-sighted and ignores proven weaknesses in biometric readers and data, including accuracy, reliability and privacy.
How you enter your identifier is not game-changing. We don’t need another reader, we need a next-generation identity infrastructure. Think about that the next time you change your hacked password on 30 different Web sites.
What will foster authentication’s evolution is how ID and access management is federated on the back-end, including how ID traverses security boundaries, how trust is established, how tokens are issued/revoked, how user attributes are collected, stored and verified. That takes an integrated and decentralized village.
Apple lives on an island. The iPhone is a client, an end-point, an input mechanism. iPhone 5S, an authentication factor in the future? Perhaps. A game-changer? No.