iOS 7, 64-bits and TouchID. This is the beginning of a very cool evolution

iPhone 5s

I am truly excited with the iPhone 5s. The term “Forward thinking” seems like a perfect fit, regardless of what aspect of the device you pick to analyze. From the technical point of view, the 64-bit A7 chip is the best example, of course. Although the iPhone 5s will not carry 4gb of RAM, the A7 is the first step to allow the phone to keep evolving in a pace that up until a week ago we didn’t even think was possible.

The TouchID is another really exciting addition. It has opened the door to countless possibilities not only regarding the way we will interact with the phone, but it could change the way we relate to the whole Web – imagine an integration between TouchID and iCloud Keychain, for instance.

Apple has been extremely careful with the way they intend to store and use the information collected by the TouchID sensor. They’ve already explained that it’s not even your fingerprint that is stored, but little coded pieces of information that come from under your skin. They’ve also promised that this information will never leave the phone, and will be stored in an area of the processor that not even the phone or the rest of the processor itself will be able to access.

I don’t think, however, that this is the whole story. Apple didn’t spend millions of dollars buying a company and developing an entirely new piece of hardware just so you can unlock your phone and buy content faster, did they? I don’t think so. I suspect that these first few months will work as a big test to find out how well the information is really kept. Starting this week, millions and millions of phones will be put to this test every day all throughout the world.

I wonder if it’s possible (and if it is, how long it’ll take) for Jailbreakers to figure out a way to extract this information from the chip. Not that a jailbroken phone would automatically become vulnerable to this sort of data theft, but if the user manages to extract this information from his own phone, this will mean that Apple’s security team will be in for long nights ahead of them, until they manage to add a few more security layers to the whole thing.

It’s a very safe and smart (and obvious) idea to limit the TouchID functionalities to somewhat less harmful activities while the whole thing is put to the test in the real world, before making APIs available for developers so you can start linking TouchID to your bank account, for instance.

Anyhow, I see TouchID as the first step for a level of personalization that has been anticipated and expected for ages by iOS users, and that now can finally be implemented in a perfectly seamless way.

Imagine creating profiles for different users in an iPhone or iPad: one profile for you, one for your kid, etc. The kid picks up the iPad, taps the fingerprint sensor, and it’s done. Only the kids apps show up, along with their wallpaper, songs, movies, and so on. Even parental restrictions are already in place. Now imagine locking the iPad, and right after that you wake it up, touch the sensor, and boom®. You’re holding your iPad. All of your apps and contents are there, but your kids games are gone, and so are all the notifications, iMessage texts, etc.

This is something that has been in people’s wishlist for a while now, especially with people who share their iPads with the rest of the family. Of course that Apple would just love if everyone just got themselves their own iPads, and maybe this is why such a big feature has never been really prioritized up until today in Cupertino. But I also believe that they know that something like this is a bit far from the reality that most of us live in.

Obviously it would be great if iOS 7 and the new iPhones had already brought all of that to us. Thinking about this sort of thing just makes me want to flash forward and see what iOS 8, 9 or 10 will look like. If the iPhone 5s is an iPhone with “forward thinking“, it certainly fulfills its purpose: it makes it clear that this is just the first step of a pretty cool and exciting evolution process, and at the same time it goes back to being one step ahead of everybody else in the smartphone business. Samsung has already announced that they’ll be putting 64-bit chips in their next smartphones. They just left out the part that they’ll be adopting the fingerprint sensor as well.

While everybody else will play catch yet again so they can me-too the features that Apple unveiled last week, the folks from Cupertino on the other hand have already laid out the terrain to implement the features of tomorrow. And I really look forward to them.

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