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Apple could bring an iris scanner to iPhones by 2018

Security is in the eye of the beholder

Apple could bring an iris scanner to iPhones by 2018
26 July 2016

The race is on to make your smartphone as secure as possible. 

Pass codes? Please, that's so 2011. Fingerprint scanners? You clearly haven't heard that the US police are using 3D printed fingers to unlock some dead guy's phone. No - for a super secure handset that no one other than you is going to be able to unlock, smartphone makers are going ocular. 

The future of smartphone security is in the eye of the beholder

The tech analysts at DigiTimes have word that Apple is looking to incorporate "biometrics recognition" by 2018, including camera tech that will scan the unique pattern of your iris before unlocking.

Handset manufacturers such as Apple often employ other tech groups, known as "solution suppliers", to create software and hardware which they package into their phone. DigiTimes's source states that major solution suppliers including Qualcomm, Truly Opto-Electronics, O-film Tech and Beijing IrisKing are busily building iris and other biometrics recognition solutions for new smartphones.

What's the advantage of an iris scanner?

​Foremost, it's very, very hard (like, basically impossible) to fake someone's iris pattern: while someone might be able to find your fingerprints on surfaces you've touched and then create 3D prints of them, it's a lot harder to pinch a copy of your iris.

However, numerous problems could see iris scanners be something of a security bauble for new smartphones: the scanner would require a certain amount of light on the user's eye to recognise the iris. It might even fail to recognise the user if their pupil dilates - a physical reaction to low lighting or even brought on by booze - or if they're wearing glasses or contact lenses. 

Who else is working on iris scanners?

It would seem that Apple might be a bit late to the iSecurity party: Samsung's new Galaxy Note 7 - set to arrive later this year - is rumoured to have iris scanning functions, allowing users to unlock their phone without having to touch their screen. 

That would mean Apple is at least a year late to the tech. However, if it proves as hard to implement as suggested, it may prove a smart pause. We'll just stick with our tried and tested PIN for now: 1111. Uncrackable.