There has been a longstanding rumor that Apple is developing a fingerprint sensor for use in upcoming releases of their popular iDevices, bolstering their relevance in the enterprise sector. According to 9to5Mac, these rumors have now been confirmed, following Monday's release of iOS 7 beta 4.
The latest iteration of Apple's mobile software contains a small segment of code, hidden within a folder titled "BiometricKitUI", which points to the new security feature. Although there are no outwardly visual signs in the iOS user interface, the code (shown below) references fingerprint-sensing technology that can accurately identify the user's left or right thumb when they are grasping their iPhone.
To beef up its security offerings, Apple recently acquired AuthenTec, a specialist in fingerprint sensor technology, to the tune of $365 million. AuthenTec has worked closely with HP, Samsung and Dell over the years; and prior to the buyout, the firm's technology was being used to develop more secure logins, enhance user verification tools, and to restrict access to private applications and accounts.
Although the code definitely indicates that a biometric scanning tool is in the works, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to be released anytime soon. For example, code foreshadowing the company's popular panorama feature was first discovered back in 2011; however, the feature didn't actually come to the iPhone until iOS 6 was unveiled in late 2012.
That being said, with the next iteration of the iPhone set to hit store shelves in the next few months, it's definitely a development to watch out for.