Touch ID includes a sophisticated biometric sensor resulting from Apple's previous acquisition of AuthenTec. Instead of pressing the button and then swiping and entering a passcode, now all you do is place your finger on the sensor which recognizes your fingerprint and then gives you access to the iPhone's apps and services. It's easier to use than laptop fingerprint readers where you have to swipe to read the fingerprint. This has proven to be not nearly as acceptable to users whereas single touch without any swiping is much more acceptable and easier to use.
Apple has already integrated the sensor with the purchase of music and other media in the iTunes Store. To purchase something in iTunes, App Store or iBooks Store, you just put your finger on Touch ID when you want to buy something, and the transaction is completed without having to input your Apple ID and Password.
Although Apple didn't spell out exactly how third parties are going to be able to use Touch ID in their apps, it seems certain that Apple will provide developers with a set of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to enable other apps to complete the purchase of goods or services in a similar way to using Touch ID in iTunes.
It is quite difficult to fool the sensor into believing someone else is you. Once you've entered the base reference fingerprint images for some of your fingers, it's very unlikely that anyone else could fool the system into believing it's you.
What's more likely to happen is that you can have something on your finger (goo, oils, gloves, etc.) that doesn't give Touch ID an acceptable fingerprint image.
Touch ID is securely stored in the iPhone's A7 chip. The metrics are not stored online or in iCloud so there's no danger of someone getting access to the fingerprint image data. Touch ID uses incorporates a laser cut sapphire crystal and a capacitive touch sensor to take a high-resolution image of your fingerprint and intelligently analyze it to provide accurate readings from any angle.
As I mentioned in my Inside Mobile column last October 24, I believe that biometrics are going to become integrated in all mobile devices. While I was affiliated with Diamondhead Ventures from 2000-2006, we invested in fingerprint sensor and software maker UPEK, a spinout of ST Microelectronics. UPEK was eventually acquired by AuthenTec which, in turn, was acquired by Apple. The venture firm, in essence, made a 'double return' - once with the initial sale to AuthenTec and then a second return when AuthenTec was acquired by Apple. (Diamondhead Ventures staff subsequently joined ONSET Ventures).
Fingerprint readers have been used in popular laptops for a long time and the Motorola Atrix smartphone included an early fingerprint reader in 2011. Fingerprint readers are common in enterprise laptops, but Motorola didn't provide the integrated experience and ties to mobile commerce to make fingerprint sensing a successful experience.
What might Android device makers do in response to Apple's Touch ID? Apple isn't licensing Touch ID to other hardware vendors although they likely will make the use of Touch ID part of mobile commerce solutions. This would enable other fingerprint scanners to be added to other smartphone devices and comply with the same sensing process to complete a transaction.
There are other fingerprint biometric scanners from companies such as Precise Biometrics, Fingerprint Cards and Idex. And, there are other biometric solutions available like Eye-Verify that uses the smartphone's camera to read the blood vessel lines in your eye. Since Eye-Verify is a software solution (that uses the built-in forward facing camera), I would expect it to be offered in a number of Android smartphones. The company has an initial agreement with Samsung for the Galaxy S 4, but there are not yet commerce vendors ready to use the sensor.
I give Apple kudos for creating a biometric solution that is easy to use and works as claimed. It will be important to them to ensure that the APIs are distributed widely so that others can use Touch ID as part of the verification system in the purchase process. Apple clearly is going to the Touch ID method to complete the identity and payment process rather than investing in Near Field Communications (NFC). The iPhone 5s and 5c:
As for the iPhone 5c and 5s, I think Apple doesn't get very high marks. The 5s is not as advanced, overall, as the Samsung Galaxy S 4 or other recently distributed smartphones such as the Motorola Mobility Moto X, LG Optimus or HTC One. I think Apple should have made the displays in these two devices a different size. The display is what everyone sees and forms their initial impression.
While Apple could have made the display on the 5c smaller than the 5s, I think most people would have preferred for the 5s to have a larger display. It's striking that Apple didn't mention the display on the 5c either in the press conference or in the press release. Yes, the camera has been improved on both models with a burst mode provided in the 5s. But, most of the overall functional specs are the same between the 5s and 5c.
The second big advance in the iPhone 5s is the A7 processor which delivers 64-bit high performance. This has very big implications long term as the iPhone processor is now gaining the next generation of smartphone CPU architecture.
Programs have to be re-designed and compiled to take advantage of 64-bit but run much faster as Apple demonstrated with a video game designed to show off the advantages of using the new 64-bit CPU. But, the most gains in performance come with at least 4GB of addressable memory. Because of the many variants of Android, it's going to take longer for the Android ecosystem to deploy and make use of 64-bits.
T should have put a 4.7" display - the same size as the Samsung Galaxy S 4 - in the 5s which would have enabled it to better compete in the market.
The iPhone 5c has all of the same capabilities as the 5s except for Touch ID, a lot of colors, burst mode in the camera and the A6 processor (same as the iPhone 5). It has one obvious difference: the 5c has a polycarbonate plastic case that enables manufacturing the case in multiple colors. The 5c comes in green, blue, yellow, pink, and white.
Both models include an all-new 8 megapixel iSight® camera with True Tone flash. iSight features a larger f/2.2 aperture and a new, larger image sensor with 1.5μ pixels for better sensitivity and low-light performance which will improve the images captured by users. While still not as powerful as a compact point-and-shoot digital camera (e.g. no optical zoom), each generation of the iPhone closes the gap with the standalone digital cameras. The new camera provides up to two-times faster auto-focus, faster photo capture, automatic image and video stabilization and better dynamic range. And, the camera can capture slow motion video with 120 frames per second (vs. 30 fps during normal video).
The M7 motion coprocessor gathers data from the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass to offload work from the A7 for improved power efficiency. Developers can also access the CoreMotion APIs that take advantage of the M7 co-processor so they can create more realistic apps that utilize these sensors. Fitness apps will be able to be improved using CoreMotion APIs in their apps.
The 'c' has been reported to stand for a few different things such as 'cheaper', 'colors' and 'China.' But, the biggest problem with the 5c is the estimated unsubsidized price over $700 in China. In order to achieve a high volume sales with China Mobile (a relationship that still needs to be settled), the unsubsidized price needs to be in the $400 range. It seems that Apple could have done their redesign with a smaller display to achieve that price point. Both the 5c and 5s have multiple channel radios that will work in the US and Europe but also with the technology that's deployed by China Mobile (TD-LTE).
Apple says that the iPhone 5C would have an unsubsidized price of $549 in the US, while the 5s would have an unsubsidized price of $649. Unsubsidized prices will likely be higher in places like China going up another $200. When Apple and China Mobile announce a deal (and, thus, giving Apple access to over 700 million subscribers), I suspect the 5c will be announced with some subsidies to get the 5c unit priced under $400. Here are the prices for the new iPhones based on a two-year contract: iOS 7
Somewhat overshadowed in the Apple launch was the support for iOS 7. The design has been enhanced to be simple, elegant and less simulation of human metaphors. iOS 7 provides a number of new applications such as Airdrop - a brand new feature in iOS 7 that lets users share photos, video and contacts simply by clicking share and selecting a fellow iOS 7 user from their contacts list.
They have a revamped Notification Centre that shows new mail, missed calls and other notifications that I think will become very popular. And, the new Control Centre can be opened by swiping from the bottom of the screen. It lets the user quickly access their cellular and Wi-Fi settings, change the screen's brightness and play/pause/stop music.
Also, iOS 7 includes iTunes Radio, a free Internet radio service based on the music you listen to on iTunes. I believe this is a pre-cursor to Apple eventually offering a wide range of streaming media including TV shows, movies and music videos.Apple Apps Software
Apple is trying to push their native apps for the iPhone. Pages, Keynote, Numbers, iPhoto and iMovie are all free with any new iOS device. Note that Microsoft recently announced Office for iOS (although in rudimentary form) so Apple wants to show off their apps and get more users to try them out. Certainly iPhoto and iMovie should do well.
Market: Who Buys What Models?
Who's going to buy the new iPhone 5s and 5c? First, it appears that very few iPhone 5 owners will bother to upgrade. They already have a smartphone that supports LTE and get all the new software improvements by upgrading to iOS 7. Most iPhone 5 users will likely skip this generation and wait until the iPhone 6 comes out next year.But enterprise customers will likely go for the iPhone 5s so they can incorporate Touch ID into their operational software, e.g. using Touch ID to limit access to information that can only be viewed by certain people.
Apple iPhone 4s owners will likely upgrade to the 5c in order to take the low- cost route to getting the more advanced and faster LTE wireless data technology. I estimate that 25% of 4s users will migrate to the 5s while 75% will migrate to the 5c. The two models are so similar that most 4s users will opt for the less expensive 5c model. The 5c will also be a hit with the younger, hip crowd that are buying an iPhone for the first time. And, there are some very cost conscious people will take the 4s in pre-paid programs since there is no up-front charge.Still Waiting on the Wow Factor
Perhaps we should get used to Apple doing lots of positive things and not trying to delivering any more 'wow' moments. We didn't see Tim Cook offer, "There's one more thing" at the end of the press conference like Steve Jobs often did - where something totally unexpected is announced that leaves you in awe.
While impressive, this Apple introduction didn't leave folks in awe. The new iPhones look almost the same as the last iPhone. You have to dig deeper to see the differences. A lot of hard work went in to the design of the 5s, 5c and iOS 7. However, they just don't engage high emotional reactions.
Perhaps Apple is holding back the 'wow' factor to launch their products for the living room. Or, perhaps we'll see the iPhone 6 come out next year with big wow factors: larger display, 128GB of storage, full rollout of third parties adopting Touch ID, streaming rich media and further advances in the camera. Or, maybe we'll see an iPhone mini that will have a much lower cost, smaller display and LTE wireless.
Sadly, the new iPhone 5s and 4c won't cause long lines at the Apple stores. Yes, Apple will sell tens of millions of them. But, they won't wow another couple of hundred million more people to buy them. Progress? Certainly. Evolutionary? Yes. Revolutionary? No.
P.S. For those interested, here's is a comparison of the iPhone 5, 5s and 5c (sourceCNET
). There is also a good comparison at this link
as well as here