Analyst Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets believes both the "iPhone 5S" and so-called "iWatch" will include fingerprint identification technology after meeting with a component supplier in a tour of China and Taiwan. He revealed the details of his meetings in a research note to investors that was provided to AppleInsider.
Apple's alleged fingerprint scanner will be used for "essential security purposes," he said. He expects its appearance will open up other opportunities for Apple, specifically the ability to enable credit card payments.
White compared Apple's alleged fingerprint scanning technology to Siri, the defining feature of the iPhone 4S when it launched in 2011. He believes a secure fingerprint reader will be the main selling point of an "iPhone 5S," which he expects will launch in July.
Beyond the next iPhone, White believes Apple's fingerprint scanning technology will come to other devices from the company, namely an "iWatch" wrist accessory that he expects will launch this year. In his tour, he found "early signs of movement in the supply chain," signaling Apple could be ramping up to produce such a device.
He also suggested in a separate note issued on Wednesday that an "iWatch" could play an important part with an Apple television set. White also gave details on a supposed "iRing" that would be worn on a user's finger and would aid in detecting motion controls with an Apple television.
Speculation of Apple's interest in secure fingerprint scanners has been driven by the company's acquisition of AuthenTec last year for $356 million. That company made a "Smart Sensor" component that could embed fingerprint readers underneath a touchscreen display.
Rumors of a fingerprint reader in an "iPhone 5S" gained steam earlier this year, when analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities said Apple plans to include one embedded under the device's home button. Kuo has a strong track record in predicting Apple's future product pipeline ??in particular, he accurately predicted the company's entire fall lineup last year.
According to Kuo, the new fingerprint scanner would allow Apple to replace the user of usernames and passwords, giving users the ability to authenticate in a more efficient manner. He also expects the scanner will integrate with applications such as Passbook to enhance their functionality.