Evidence that the iPhone 5S will feature a fingerprint sensor built-in to the Home button is mounting, with new reports suggesting that the iPhone 5S will have a silver ring around the Home button.
An Apple patent application, leaked photographs of iPhone 5S packaging and closer inspection of the Apple event invitation seem to confirm that the iPhone 5S will indeed have the rumoured fingerprint sensor, which could enable better security and remove the need for passwords.
Apple iPhone 5S fingerprint sensor patent
A newly discovered Apple patent application reveals a fingerprint sensor with integrated NFC circuitry that could built-in to the iPhone 5S's Home button.
Patently Apple reports that the patent application, filed by Apple last year, details an "electronic device with shared near field communications and sensor structures."
Apple describes that the technology could be a fingerprint sensor that is able to gather data from a portion of an electronic device, specifically mentioning that this portion could be a button.
Illustrations in the patent application show a metal outer ring electrode that could surround the Home button of the iPhone 5S as part of the fingerprint sensor.
The application goes on to describe that the use of NFC (near field communication) in conjunction with the fingerprint sensor could enable further possibilities, such as the ability to carry out secure wireless interactions such as mobile payments.
Additionally, NFC could allow a new way of docking the iPhone, by enabling the device to wirelessly communicate with docking accessories through the technology.
iPhone 5S fingerprint sensor Home button to have silver ring
The fingerprint sensor patent application emerged soon after reports that the iPhone 5S would have a silver ring around the Home button surfaced online on Friday.
In August, Fox News' Clayton Morris suggested that there would be a silver ring around the iPhone 5S Home button, and that rumour has re-emerged thanks to photographs that are claimed to be of the iPhone 5S packaging. The iPhone 5S shown on the front of the box in the image has a silver ring around the Home button.
However, it's unlikely that these photographs are legitimate, because the iPhone 5S shown on the box, while running iOS 7, has no wallpaper.
That said, looking back at the official Apple invitation that Apple sent out on Tuesday last week, you'll spot that there are several white circles with silver/grey rings surrounding them. Apple is known for adding little clues into its invitations, so it's quite possible that these white circles could be a hint at the fingerprint sensor.
We mentioned in our "Decoding Apple's 10 September invite" article last week that we believe the white circles to be significant, because Apple has gone to the effort to include them in the design despite the fact that they require a grey stroke around them.
In July, code spotted in an iOS 7 beta provided key evidence that the iPhone 5S would have a fingerprint sensor, and Apple's acquisition of AuthenTec, a company that specialises in security systems such as fingerprint sensors, also suggests that Apple is working to include such technology in its devices.
We don't have long until we find out for sure what Apple's been up to behind the scenes.