Apple has far bigger plans for the Touch ID sensor than we thought.
According to a 612-page patent application the company filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Apple is considering a wide range of new uses for the fingerprint sensing technology in its mobile devices. The uses could range from UI navigation and mobile payment processing to multi-user support.
Apple describes its plans for the Touch ID sensor in a patent application called "Device, Method, and Graphical User Interface for Manipulating User Interfaces Based on Fingerprint Sensor Inputs."
The company had filed the patent in May this year and WIPO published it last week. The patent shows the new Touch ID-enabled home button, which is currently found on the recently launched iPhone 5s. It also shows off the touchscreen display with an embedded fingerprint sensing layer.
This concept of a fingerprint sensor embedded into the display is, however, now a new one for Apple as it already references the implementation in two more patents. However, the recent patent filing delves into how a new crop of devices can leverage the invention.
"The near term Apple Touch ID designs include transforming the fingerprint sensor under the Home button into a trackpad, adding new way to navigate and control iPhone UI. It should come in very handy with the launch of iPhones with 5"+ sized displays next year. If you can control them by sliding your thumb around Home button, just as well as swiping your finger around iPhone 4S display - your big iPhone 6 might be as easy to navigate around with a single hand. And there goes one of Apple's main stated reasons for not building larger iPhones until now - one hand usability. That's the near term plan," per Unwired View.
Apple is also considering incorporating other gesture-based home button functions like making a circle or twisting a finger on the sensor. Apple calls this a "revolution" which will happen around the sensor's edge and could "toggle iOS's orientation lock feature."
An iPhone or iPad with Touch ID display will not just be capable of recognizing multi-touch gestures, but also which finger from which hand is being used on the screen.
To check out the Apple patent, click here.