The iPhone 5s and Touch ID – a Missed User Experience Opportunity?

The new iPhone 5s was recently announced by Apple. It’s standout new feature is Touch ID – a fingerprint identity sensor which allows you to simply place your finger on the home button in order to unlock the phone or authorise an iTunes purchase. Will this innovation affect the user experience in any meaningful way?

Text entry is a chore on mobile devices so anything which can reduce that is going to give a nicer user experience whether it be removing the entry of a pin code or a password. Fingerprint scanners have been around for a while on laptops with limited adoption by users. Perhaps mobile is the use case they have been waiting for as it is perfectly suited to this type of scenario.

Apple has made the slightly controversial decision not to allow developers access to the Touch ID API as a means for authentication. Whilst they may do this in the future it seems like they are crippling the potential of the feature in the same way they did with Siri – by not letting anyone else have access to it’s capabilities.

People don’t buy smart phones anymore – they buy eco systems, whether that be Apple or Google. That means that the success of these eco systems is largely down to the developers and the imaginative ways in which they can take advantage of the unique capabilities mobile offers.

I would wager that had Apple given developers access to Siri it would be far more then a simple novelty to pose amusing questions to on the first day you get your iPhone.

Fingerprint scanning or Touch ID could be an effective way to automatically fill in tedious details such as addresses, email addresses and other personal information. This could potentially bring benefits to conversion rates on mobile e-commerce sites due to reduced friction in getting the user through the checkout process. This is something Apple could even introduce into iOS itself if the deemed security risk of allowing developer access to the technology is too high.

We have yet to see where Apple and the world takes this technology. If fingerprint scanning gains widespread adoption the benefits to user experience on mobile could be significant.¬†Here’s hoping they spend more time on it than they did on designing the iPhone 5c cases.

What other uses could you think of for fingerprint scanning? Let us know in the comments.

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