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S is for Speculation

My ear’s been on the proverbial ground for the last few months. I’m brushing off the dirt, and speculating that the S in iPhone 5S stands for Security.

When it comes to iPhones, the S always means something. In 3GS, it was for Speed. In 4S, it was Siri. I’m guessing (and I’m not alone) that Apple will unveil a new version, the 5S, on September 10th. What does this S stand for? My money’s on Security.

Smartphones are hot. As in “sought after” and also as in “stolen.” So it makes perfect sense that Apple would work to protect its iconic product with a package of security features.

First new security feature: fingerprint scanning. Here are the dots I’m connecting:

  • Last summer, Apple bought AuthenTec, a maker of fingerprint scanning solutions, in a (typical for Apple) rather hush-hush deal.
  • iOS 7 beta appears to have a few hooks in it for some kind of fingerprint recognition capability.
  • Apple has been granted a patent for an in-display fingerprint sensor.

Second new security feature: an iCloud Keychain that’ll auto-generate, store and fill your passwords for you in Safari. It’ll be baked into iOS 7, so consumers won’t have to purchase and set up standalone apps to do these things.

Third new security feature: Activation Lock. This is a new feature that syncs with iCloud to prevent a thief from reactivating a phone that’s been wiped. Once erased, a new iPhone will require the same Apple ID and password used to erase it before it can be used again. Once Activation Lock goes mainstream, there may be no more payoff in stealing phone. (Unless the thief has your login credentials.) How long will it be before pickpockets catch on?

Fourth new security feature: Per-App VPN aimed at improving security for enterprises.

So will I be standing in queue of September 10th (or will that be 20th?) for a new iPhone? Despite being a long-term Apple user/owner, having cut me computing teeth (so to speak) on the Apple II, and being a Mac-only household since my Mac SE/30, it constantly surprises friends and co-workers that to-date I’ve only owned one iPhone: my trusty 4S.

So I might not be in the physical queue for the iPhone 5S, but I’ll certainly be in the download queue for iOS 7.

Oh, and if none of the above turns out to be correct, I’ll be retrospectively claiming I said all along that the ‘S’ stood for ‘Snow’. (A wee joke for all you cultivar fans out there.)