Apple preparing software update to enhance functionality of iPhone 5s Touch ID

Posted:
in iPhone edited March 2014
Apple is preparing to release a free software update designed to improve the fingerprint recognition experience of Touch ID, potentially fixing a "fade" issue that has been experienced by some iPhone 5s users, AppleInsider has learned.

TruePrint


A source familiar with Apple's development plans said the company is well aware of early adopter issues that many iPhone 5s users are experiencing with Touch ID, the fingerprint recognition feature introduced last year after acquiring AuthenTec in 2012.

After launching iPhone 5s last fall, Apple has continued to work with the original AuthenTec team to improve its recognition software and will release an update relatively soon, the source confidently reported. However, AppleInsider could not verify whether the update will ship as part of iOS 7.1, which is expected to drop in mid-March.

While initial reviews of Touch ID generally praised the "single touch" system for being easy to set up and consistently accurate, a number of users have reported what is being called "AuthenTec Fade," or intermittent recognition failures that begin to occur months after first configuring one's prints.

The Fade


Multiple users affected by the "AuthenTec Fade" problem have noted that reconfiguring their prints seems to return the system to its initial performance, but after several weeks the so-called "fade" creeps back.

Another trick suggested in user forms is to configure your most commonly used finger multiple times as separate fingers, under the assumption that this makes it more likely that the system can recognize the print on the first try.

Touch ID


While there are certainly some issues with fingerprint recognition that Apple simply can't solve, including tissue damage that would render a fingerprint completely unreadable or extremely wet conditions that could either swell a user's skin to the point where the print is actually too different to recognize, there are improvements the company can deliver in a software update that will improve users' Touch ID experience.

Prior to its acquisition by Apple, AuthenTec had been rapidly innovating in both hardware and software at a regular pace. Modern electronic fingerprint sensors had appeared on netbook computers for at least five years, and Motorola had incorporated a swipe-style fingerprint sensor from AuthenTec on its ill-fated Atrix 4G phone in early 2011.

Atrix


By the end of 2011, Atrix users were complaining in public forums that their fingerprint sensor wasn't working at all, and that newer versions of Android lacked support for the sensor hardware. Subsequent versions of Motorola's phone dropped the fingerprint reading feature.

AuthenTec began floating a new fingerprint recognizer package representing the most advanced sensor and software technology available for mobile devices in late 2011, but the company subsequently divulged in SEC filings that none of the companies that AuthenTec approached with its latest technology expressed interest in adopting it apart from Apple.

Authentic


The company specifically noted that the main reason that no other companies had expressed any interest in the new technology involved the relatively high cost of its new sensor solution. Apple was impressed enough to quickly act to acquire the company entirely, in a $356 million purchase that represented one of the largest company acquisitions Apple has ever made.

Over the next year, Apple and AuthenTec enhanced their fingerprint solution, developing a sapphire cover to protect the delicate sensor incorporated with the iPhone 5s home button and creating a setup and recognition process appropriate for iOS 7.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 42
    I wish they'd change the way it works for purchasing from the App Store and iTunes. I reboot my iPhone daily, primarily because it's needed for accurate battery percentage reporting. By doing so, you can't use Touch ID for purchases until the 2nd time. Considering I rarely ever purchase more than one item in a given day, that feature is completely useless to me.

    Otherwise, Touch ID works very well for me. It's not perfect, but it still beats sliding to unlock and entering in my passcode.
  • Reply 2 of 42
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RedGeminiPA View Post



    I wish they'd change the way it works for purchasing from the App Store and iTunes. I reboot my iPhone daily, primarily because it's needed for accurate battery percentage reporting. By doing so, you can't use Touch ID for purchases until the 2nd time. Considering I rarely ever purchase more than one item in a given day, that feature is completely useless to me.



    Otherwise, Touch ID works very well for me. It's not perfect, but it still beats sliding to unlock and entering in my passcode.

     

    That's a hell of a bug, as the only thing actually necessary for accurate battery reporting (on any device) is to completely discharge and recharge the battery every few months or so, depending on frequency of use.

  • Reply 3 of 42
    Looking forward to Apple finally fixing this bug! I've spent sooooo much time reprogramming my fingerprints%u2026 sometimes several times per week. It feels like I've reprogrammed my fingerprints more times than I've used my fingerprints to unlock my device!
  • Reply 4 of 42
    wingswings Posts: 261member

    I have 5 fingers programmed, but only one that fades. Middle finger, right hand. Weird.

     

    (And no, I don't wear it out by flipping the bird at people.)

  • Reply 5 of 42
    scotty321 wrote: »
    Looking forward to Apple finally fixing this bug! I've spent sooooo much time reprogramming my fingerprints%u2026 sometimes several times per week. It feels like I've reprogrammed my fingerprints more times than I've used my fingerprints to unlock my device!

    Otoh, mine works perfectly every time. Go figure.
  • Reply 6 of 42

    No need for new software ...

     

    STOP touching it with your greasy fingers .... wash them after eating your 2-day old pizza!

  • Reply 7 of 42
    I wish they'd fix some issues with OS X Mavericks, my iMac is running super sluggish lately! Sound issues & iMovie/iPhoto take at least 30-35secs to open! But good things come to those who wait so I hope it's just a bug
  • Reply 8 of 42
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

     

    Mine works about 99% of the time.  And when it doesn't its usually because my fingers are wet/greasy.

     

    I programed 5 slots with the same finger.


    I've tried that.  It is so temperamental, I just turned the feature off.  Looking forward to a fix.

  • Reply 9 of 42
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by DonSchmidt View Post



    I wish they'd fix some issues with OS X Mavericks, my iMac is running super sluggish lately! Sound issues & iMovie/iPhoto take at least 30-35secs to open! But good things come to those who wait so I hope it's just a bug

    I was periodically having this issue.  I installed a free program from the Mac App Store called MemoryKeeper.  It sits in the Menu bar and you can activate it manually or automatically.  It cleans out the memory that is being held but no longer needed.  My slow downs have stopped.  

  • Reply 10 of 42

    I've programmed four fingers, saving a slot for my wife to program one finger, and TouchID has worked great for me, no fade and works on the first time 99% of the time. The only time it doesn't work on my initial attempt is when my finger's wet / dirty. 

  • Reply 11 of 42
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,565member
    TouchID works for me unless my finger is too dry or too wet so I moisten it or wipe it as needed. I experienced the dreaded fade after about a week on my first two or three times to 'register' a fingerprint but for some reason the last one took and it has been working fine for about two months now with no noticeable degradation. Maybe TouchID, somehow, through sheer random luck, generated a robust map/profile/record of my fingerprint the last time around.
  • Reply 12 of 42
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Touch ID works about 90-95% of the time for me, which I was surprised by because I live in a cold climate and my hands are frequently very dry. Can't wait for it to come to iPad. Would never go back to a phone without it.
  • Reply 13 of 42
    never had the fade problem, but the solution is to allow each subsequent unlock to be leveraged as additional training data, with the latest captures carrying the heaviest weight.
  • Reply 14 of 42
    This article and comments miss the simple technique for over-training touch-id. The short of that is just to use the "test" scan part of the touch settings. Every time it recognizes a finger, it will keep recording and enhancing that record. No need to do 5 slots of the same finger.

    http://www.imore.com/touch-id-not-working-you-heres-fix
  • Reply 15 of 42
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    I wish they'd change the way it works for purchasing from the App Store and iTunes. I reboot my iPhone daily, primarily because it's needed for accurate battery percentage reporting. By doing so, you can't use Touch ID for purchases until the 2nd time. Considering I rarely ever purchase more than one item in a given day, that feature is completely useless to me.

    Otherwise, Touch ID works very well for me. It's not perfect, but it still beats sliding to unlock and entering in my passcode.

    That isn't normal. Your battery life shouldn't be so wildly inaccurate that you need to restart your phone daily. Mine only gets rebooted after an update or I use all the battery life.

    scotty321 wrote: »
    Looking forward to Apple finally fixing this bug! I've spent sooooo much time reprogramming my fingerprints%u2026 sometimes several times per week. It feels like I've reprogrammed my fingerprints more times than I've used my fingerprints to unlock my device!

    As [@]sog35[/@] stated you should have it replaced. I can't even begin to understand why you'd continue to use a device that would have you reprogram it more times per week than you use it. At what point do you say, "I probably have a bad sensor"?


    OT: Thanks [@]PhilBoogie[/@] for showing me the @ mention option.

    sog35 wrote: »
    Mine works about 99% of the time.  And when it doesn't its usually because my fingers are wet/greasy.

    I programed 5 slots with the same finger.
    I've programmed four fingers, saving a slot for my wife to program one finger, and TouchID has worked great for me, no fade and works on the first time 99% of the time. The only time it doesn't work on my initial attempt is when my finger's wet / dirty. 

    Same here. No issues unless my fingers are too wet or dirty. I love this feature so I'm glad mine working fine. I do find myself picking up my iPad mini and not understanding why it's not unlocking. This happens way too often and takes a couple seconds each time for me to realize that Touch ID isn't going to work. That's how much I depend on this new tech. I will buy a new iPad mini this year if the only change is adding Touch ID. Hopefully we'll get something on the Mac, too, even though a "PC" password has more possibilities with a 3 character password than the 1:50,000 chances Touch ID reportedly has.
  • Reply 16 of 42

    I find that both too wet and too dry fingertips causes recognition issues.  I am on my third 5s (first was color exchange, the second bricked) and the sensor seems to work better than the first two phones.  It's a pretty much seamless experience - I hardly ever have to key in my access code. I wish my iPad and various Macs had a similar feature - beats the heck out of keying in passwords.

  • Reply 17 of 42
    My own experience using TouchID is that it has trouble recognizing prints when your skin dries out too. The extra roughness or tiny cracks due to your skin being too dry can throw it off.
  • Reply 18 of 42
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,534member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by scotty321 View Post



    Looking forward to Apple finally fixing this bug! I've spent sooooo much time reprogramming my fingerprints%u2026 sometimes several times per week. It feels like I've reprogrammed my fingerprints more times than I've used my fingerprints to unlock my device!

    I have had very mixed results with touch ID and have reprogrammed several times. The fingers I use the most are kind of messed up (cracked, dry,  scarred) so I used different fingers, but with mixed results. Eventually I gave up and just used the usual code. 

    But recently I tried again, making sure I programmed the part of my finger I actually use to unlock the phone and deviating very little from that area (only when told to by Apple), and voila! I have touch ID. It works well now, even with my dry cracked fingers.

  • Reply 19 of 42
    paxman wrote: »
    I tried again, making sure I programmed the part of my finger I actually use to unlock the phone and deviating very little from that area (only when told to by Apple), and voila! I have touch ID.

    Also had problems - have been reprogramming my right thumb (the one I use most often) but not had to do this for my other fingers.

    However, I have come to the conclusion that it's probably user error - ie. me.

    Thumbs - especially man-thumbs - are much larger than the sensor area and I forget which part I've registered exactly.

    IMO slightly more training in the setup process would alleviate some of this frustration for bigger prints, I therefore submit this as the likely patch.
  • Reply 20 of 42
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 5,804member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RedGeminiPA View Post



    I wish they'd change the way it works for purchasing from the App Store and iTunes. I reboot my iPhone daily, primarily because it's needed for accurate battery percentage reporting. By doing so, you can't use Touch ID for purchases until the 2nd time. Considering I rarely ever purchase more than one item in a given day, that feature is completely useless to me.



    Otherwise, Touch ID works very well for me. It's not perfect, but it still beats sliding to unlock and entering in my passcode.

     

    Why should Apple change things for some random, slightly eccentric user who chooses to reboot his device very day because he thinks it does something.

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