The patent, named ‘biometric capture for unauthorized user identification,’ is pretty straightforward. If Touch ID detects a fingerprint that isn’t yours, it’ll store an image of the scan as a means of catching who may have stolen your phone.
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It may also take their picture, or a video of them trying to hack your device. Here’s the abstract description of the patent:
A computing device may determine to capture biometric information in response to the occurrence of one or more trigger conditions. The trigger condition may be receipt of one or more instructions from one or more other computing devices, detection of potential unauthorized use by the computing device, normal operation of the computing device, and so on.
The computing device may obtain biometric information and may store such biometric information. Such biometric information may be one or more fingerprints, one or more images of a current user of the computing device, video of the current user, audio of the environment of the computing device, forensic interface use information, and so on. The computing device may then provide the stored biometric information for identification of one or more unauthorized users.
Like many patents, it’s probably just an idea Apple is putting its thumb on (pun intended!) so nobody else can claim it. There are a lot of things to consider with making it a user-facing feature, like how the info is stored on your phone and if you’d actually be able to access or delete it (say a child snatched a parent’s phone to watch videos; that’s sketchy to the device, but definitely not theft).
Either way, it’s an interesting feature I’d actually like to see refined and put into practice as an optional security feature.