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Why Apple's iPhone 5s fingerprint scanner is the dumbest feature

Thu, 09/12/2013 - 11:28am
Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor

It came to my attention at a dinner last night that I am not fully supportive of the new iPhone 5s. As you might have noticed from previous posts, I am an Apple FanGirl. I have a MacBook Pro, a Macbook Air, an iPad, an iPhone 5, an Apple TV, and various generations of the iPod (iPod Mini anyone?). Needless to say, I am a big fan of the software and the hardware that Apple manufactures. If Apple makes it, chances are I will buy it.**  But, I don’t think I’ll be buying the new iPhone.

First of all, let me nip the obvious argument right in the bud. It’s not because they didn’t change the overall look of the phone. I actually read an internet comment that said, “Shame on Apple for not following the market trend and customer demand of a larger screen.” To that I say, no, random stranger on the internet, you are wrong. I don’t want a giant phone screen. I have an iPad for that. I don’t want to have to lug around a huge phone and frankly, a bigger phone doesn’t fit well in my hand (or my pocket for that matter.) Anyway, the design is fine. [Except for the fact that it now comes in gold, which isn’t something I would ever buy, but I digress.]

One of the big features they’re pushing—besides the new A7 platform—is that it has a fingerprint scanner for security. I don’t want to point out the obvious, but fingerpring scanners are rarely worth the potential trouble they cause. I mean, honestly, can you REALLY not be bothered to type in your four number/letter password? Is it THAT tiresome for you? Answer: No. It is not a big deal.

It’s gimmicky, and the one thing that I like about Apple, is they don’t pander to gimmicks. I suppose you could count Siri as a gimmick, but when I was stuck in traffic with no one to talk to Siri became my only source of entertainment. [Fun fact: If you ask Siri to sing a song, she will sing, “If I only had a brain.”] Anyway, the thing about Siri is that if you have the office assistant feature on the phone and don’t use it, it doesn’t prevent you from accessing the phone. If you have the fingerprint scanner and it breaks, you are out of luck, friend. Yes, I’m sure this is the best fingerprint scanner that ever did scan a fingerprint [it’s Apple after all] but I still don’t want it.

The other perks are nice (i.e. faster software, better graphics, better camera), but I keep getting stuck on the fingerprint scanner. It brings back terrible memories of IBMs ThinkPad T400 series.

I probably sound a bit curmudgeonly and I’m sure at some point I’ll change my mind, but for now I’m not sold on the idea. Yes, biometrics are safer and harder to hack, which is why Apple bought their own biometrics company (AuthenTec) last year. 

But, since they aren’t foolproof and the margin for error necessary for the device might mean someone else is just similar enough to you to fool the device.

As for larger issues of security, I’ll let this raccoon do the talking. 

Yes, the phone will sell and yes, other companies will jump on the bandwagon, but I’m not impressed.

And don’t even get me started on that plastic horrorshow…

 

**Except for the iPad mini, that thing is an abomination.

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