A European patent surfacing on none other than Patently Apple gives a detailed sneak peak at what could be a major part of tomorrow's iPhone 5S announcement. Not only has Apple been working on an integrated home button fingerprint sensor, but the company plans to integrate the technology with Near Field Communications (NFC).
Glimpses of the new home button can be seen on leaked iPhone 5S packaging, showing a silver ring around the home button on the black front bezel. The device would automatically scan the user's fingerprint using capacitive touch technology, which analysts predict will be housed under a sapphire lens. Fingerprint scanning and NFC would be facilitated by redesigned internal parts, including a home button ribbon with integrated chip.
NFC could enable the next generation of payment systems and iPhone docks, making passwords obsolete and improving security. According to the patent, optical sensors in the iPhone 5S home button would not only read fingerprint data, but these same sensors could transfer data with accessories such as compatible docks. The patent application was first filed in 2012, under information making the patent more difficult to find for sites such as Patently Apple.
Besides facilitating purchases and other transactions, the fingerprint sensor in combination with NFC can be used to verify one's identity. Apple's Passbook application would stand to benefit from the technology right off the bat. If the patent application has been implemented in the iPhone 5S, tomorrow's announcement in Cupertino will be the first official confirmation of this technology by Apple.
iPhone 5S users may never have to manually enter a passcode again. The capacitive ring detailed in the patent even makes pressing the physical home button a thing of the past.