Apple’s latest trick: Turning your finger into a key.
At an event on the company’s Cupertino campus on Tuesday, Apple introduced its latest flagship iPhone, in its ongoing battle against Samsung and the Android operating system for smartphone supremacy. Called the iPhone 5s, the new iPhone retains the designs and dimensions of last year’s iPhone 5 but adds a faster processor, an improved camera and a new feature called Touch ID, which allows the owner to secure the iPhone with his or her fingerprint.
The Touch ID is a piece of hardware beneath the home button of the iPhone; it scans your finger and verifies your identity and then locks or unlocks the phone. Your fingerprint identity can also be used to make purchases on iTunes. Apple says that your fingerprints are encrypted and are stored on the phone itself and not in the cloud or anywhere on the Internet, perhaps easing some NSA-related concerns.The fingerprint sensor will also be an optional feature: Owners will not be forced to use it for security, but it will be an option.
Apple’s Touch ID is the result of its acquisition of mobile security company AuthenTec; Apple bought the company and all of its patents for over $350 million in 2011, one of its largest purchases ever.
The iPhone 5s also features an improved camera, with a smart “True Tone” flash that can sense the coloring of your subject and choose a flash color to match it, as well as slow motion and burst photography modes; a motion sensing chip that will allow for improved health and fitness tracking; and a new 64-bit processor, which Apple says will boost gaming and graphics performance.
The iPhone 5s will be available in slate black, gray and a new “champagne” color (commonly referred to as gold) starting on September 20th. Like the iPhone 5, the iPhone 5s will cost $199 for a 16GB model, $299 for a 32GB model and $399 for a 64GB model, all with a two-year contract.
Breaking with tradition, the iPhone 5s will not be available for pre-order.
Apple also introduced a cheaper iPhone called the iPhone 5c, available with a plastic backing and in multiple colors. The iPhone 5c will feature similar features as the iPhone 5 (which was discontinued with the announcement): An 8 megapixel camera, a 4-inch Retina display and 4G LTE capability. The iPhone 5c is widely viewed as Apple’s attempt to break into growing smartphone markets like India and China, where it lags behind less expensive Android and Nokia phones.
In the US, the iPhone 5c will start at $99 on contract for a 16GB version.
Both the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c will ship with iOS 7, Apple's new mobile operating system revealed this past summer. iOS 7 will be available for download on existing iOS devices (iPad 2 or newer, iPhone 4 and newer, and iPad mini) on September 18th, Apple announced.
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