In a bid to further improve the security provided by iPhones to users, Apple has filed a patent application for new anti-theft technology that will dissuade thieves from stealing the devices.
Thieves have long targeted iPhones due to their premium status within the smartphone industry and the high demand for the devices, but Apple has enforced several measures to battle back against them. These include the Find My iPhone feature, which allows users to lock stolen devices or wipe off the data in them, and encryption that will protect the smartphone from incorrect passcodes or fingerprints.
The new system that Apple filed a patent for, however, will further improve the iPhone's security. In the document that was acquired by Patently Apple, the company could be looking to incorporate technology in future iPhone models that will collect biometric information on whoever is holding the device upon the activation of certain trigger conditions.
These trigger conditions may include attempted unauthorized access by a third-party device and the detection of an unauthorized user who is trying to break through the iPhone's security features.
Once such a trigger condition is met, the technology will collect biometric information such as one or more fingerprints of the person holding the iPhone, a video or photo of that person, the audio of the environment surrounding the smartphone and the GPS location of the device, among others. The iPhone will then forward the collected data to a server, which could then be accessed to help determine the thief that stole the smartphone.
The system, as described in the patent application, will have to jump through certain technical issues. For one thing, before Apple's current TouchID technology is able to accurately capture a fingerprint, the person has to press their finger several times at various angles on the home button, and it would be pretty hard to force a thief to do that knowing that the technology is present. Apple would first have to make improvements on its technology to more efficiently collect fingerprints.
In addition, storing the collected biometric information will go against Apple's policy of not storing any unencrypted information, with this privacy often touted by the company in selling its software and hardware.
The security measures that Apple has enforced for its devices such as the iPhone has largely reduced theft, as thieves now think twice before stealing iPhones because the device could be instantly reduced to a bricked smartphone that they would not be able to sell for a profit. The technology described in the patent, however, is beyond traditional security measures, with Apple likely to not have the system in place in the near future.