Apple quietly toughens rules forcing passcode unlocks of Touch ID devices

Posted:
in iPhone
Apple has silently added another condition under which an iPhone or iPad user has to unlock their device with a passcode, despite having Touch ID enabled, according to a report.




iOS will now ask for a passcode if it hasn't been unlocked that way for six days, and Touch ID hasn't been used in the last eight hours, MacWorld said. A quoted Apple spokesperson claimed the rule has been in place since iOS 9 was released in Sept. 2015, but MacWorld noted this is inconsistent with the iOS Security guide, which only mentioned the change starting May 12. Apple declined to offer an explanation.

The company has several such rules in place, the two most common forcing a passcode unlock if a device is rebooted or hasn't been unlocked for 48 hours. Others require a passcode after new fingers are added to Touch ID, a person tries five unsuccessful Touch ID logins, or someone issues a remote lock via Find My iPhone.

If the discovered rule is genuinely new, it's not clear how or when Apple might have made the change, since iOS 9.3.1 was released in March and 9.3.2 arrived earlier this week.

Regardless, the tactic is presumably a means of reinforcing the security of Apple devices. It could potentially have an impact on U.S. law enforcement, which has already begun seeking court orders compelling people to unlock iPhones with their fingerprints.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 35
    schlackschlack Posts: 711member
    great security update. makes a lot of sense. esp in light of recent opinions that the gov can force u to unlock ur phone via touch id but not via passcode.
    caliSpamSandwichlondormike1waverboylatifbpjony0pulseimages
  • Reply 2 of 35
    It certainly has been that way for a while, as I have consistently had this experience. I was wondering why I kept having to enter my passcode if I hadn't used Touch ID in several hours. I was under the impression the rule was 24 hours, and never got an explanation for why it was much shorter than that. I wasn't the only one complaining about this "bug" either. Now we know.
    icoco3bkerkayjony0pulseimages
  • Reply 3 of 35
    plovellplovell Posts: 819member
    It's not new - it has been there for some time. I'm not sure if it started with iOS 9 but it was early on in the 9.x releases. It was confusing at first because the prompt was about "after 48 hours" and I had been using my iPhone every day. The message has since been updated to eliminate the confusion.
    icoco3maltzai46pulseimages
  • Reply 4 of 35
    icoco3icoco3 Posts: 1,473member
    plovell said:
    It's not new - it has been there for some time. I'm not sure if it started with iOS 9 but it was early on in the 9.x releases. It was confusing at first because the prompt was about "after 48 hours" and I had been using my iPhone every day. The message has since been updated to eliminate the confusion.
    I thought it was every 48 hours.  A new feature should be to control how you want it applied.  A user can control how often it requires a pass-code.
  • Reply 5 of 35
    linkmanlinkman Posts: 1,029member
    No TouchID within the last 8 hours? The time to obtain a court order to compel a fingerprint unlock will exceed this in almost all cases.
    volcantdknoxlatifbpai46jony0
  • Reply 6 of 35
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    There will probably be more that will be done as Apple learns about the method the FBI used to allegedly crack those highly publicized phones. 
    latifbplostkiwi
  • Reply 7 of 35
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    Wish this was an optional toggle that I could leave off, as well as the restart rule.  I seem to have to put in my passcode a lot and I don't see a whole lot of advantage in it.
  • Reply 8 of 35
    gorobotgogorobotgo Posts: 16member
    So this makes a lot of sense. I was confused by why I was being asked to enter my passcode first thing in the morning, seemingly randomly. I had assumed that this was a bug, that my phone had been rebooting or respringing in the night (since that does seem to happen sometimes). Now I understand that this was probably in cases where I had gotten a full night's sleep (8 hours or more), and it had been more than 6 days since I had unlocked my phone with my passcode. I do wish that they'd expand that 8 hours to a more reasonable 12, so that getting a full 8 hours of sleep isn't the trigger for forcing you to unlock with your passcode, though; thanks to Touch ID being so convenient, I changed my passcode to an unguessable 20+ character string, and having to type that in first thing in the morning, still half-asleep, is a challenge that I really don't need in my life.
    bkerkaylostkiwi
  • Reply 9 of 35
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,686member
    I too often get the "you need to input after a restart" quite a lot, but I don't restart ever.
    lostkiwi
  • Reply 10 of 35
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,057member
    crowley said:
    Wish this was an optional toggle that I could leave off, as well as the restart rule.  I seem to have to put in my passcode a lot and I don't see a whole lot of advantage in it.
    Sounds like you're not using your iPhone very often. I like this new configuration. It's a little inconvenient when I don't access my phone at least once every 8 hrs but I can live with it.

    ai46
  • Reply 11 of 35
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,057member

    gorobotgo said:
    So this makes a lot of sense. I was confused by why I was being asked to enter my passcode first thing in the morning, seemingly randomly. I had assumed that this was a bug, that my phone had been rebooting or respringing in the night (since that does seem to happen sometimes). Now I understand that this was probably in cases where I had gotten a full night's sleep (8 hours or more), and it had been more than 6 days since I had unlocked my phone with my passcode. I do wish that they'd expand that 8 hours to a more reasonable 12, so that getting a full 8 hours of sleep isn't the trigger for forcing you to unlock with your passcode, though; thanks to Touch ID being so convenient, I changed my passcode to an unguessable 20+ character string, and having to type that in first thing in the morning, still half-asleep, is a challenge that I really don't need in my life.
    According to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Published July 12, 2015, http://www.lifescript.com/parenting-pregnancy/parenting/articles/how_long_is_a_good_nights_sleep.aspx, the following guidelines put Apple's 8 hrs in line with most adults. It's the younger users who might be affected but I've never seen a teenager who doesn't access their phone constantly.

    Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. 
    Teens need at least 9 hours of sleep each night.
    School-aged and preschool children need 10 to 12 hours of sleep.
    Newborns sleep between 16 and 18 hours a day.
  • Reply 12 of 35
    rob53 said:

    gorobotgo said:
    So this makes a lot of sense. I was confused by why I was being asked to enter my passcode first thing in the morning, seemingly randomly. I had assumed that this was a bug, that my phone had been rebooting or respringing in the night (since that does seem to happen sometimes). Now I understand that this was probably in cases where I had gotten a full night's sleep (8 hours or more), and it had been more than 6 days since I had unlocked my phone with my passcode. I do wish that they'd expand that 8 hours to a more reasonable 12, so that getting a full 8 hours of sleep isn't the trigger for forcing you to unlock with your passcode, though; thanks to Touch ID being so convenient, I changed my passcode to an unguessable 20+ character string, and having to type that in first thing in the morning, still half-asleep, is a challenge that I really don't need in my life.
    According to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Published July 12, 2015, http://www.lifescript.com/parenting-pregnancy/parenting/articles/how_long_is_a_good_nights_sleep.aspx, the following guidelines put Apple's 8 hrs in line with most adults. It's the younger users who might be affected but I've never seen a teenager who doesn't access their phone constantly.

    Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. 
    Teens need at least 9 hours of sleep each night.
    School-aged and preschool children need 10 to 12 hours of sleep.
    Newborns sleep between 16 and 18 hours a day.
    Ugh.  Thank you for the breakdown of how long people of various ages sleep.  I guess preschoolers are going to have a hard time unlocking their phones with their tiny fingers.  

    Your conjecture, of course, is that Apple makes a reasonable assumption that an adult looks at their phone immediately preceding falling asleep and then again immediately upon waking up in order to avoid the inconvenience of entering a passcode again.  If that is some folks use case, then great.  I would think that a lot of folks, myself included, are certainly not that attached to my phone.

    In any case, the solution is very simple and as others have suggested: allow it to be configurable with an 8 hour default.
    lostkiwiicoco3
  • Reply 13 of 35
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    rob53 said:
    crowley said:
    Wish this was an optional toggle that I could leave off, as well as the restart rule.  I seem to have to put in my passcode a lot and I don't see a whole lot of advantage in it.
    Sounds like you're not using your iPhone very often. I like this new configuration. It's a little inconvenient when I don't access my phone at least once every 8 hrs but I can live with it.

    On the contrary, I'm using it a lot. But part of that use is turning it off for periods. It's annoying to have to put in a passcode rather than use my finger for that start up, and I'm yet to be convinced that it offers any additional security, or that I should appreciate it.  This new rule seems like it's going to add even more passcode unlocks. No great sweat, but annoying when it doesn't seem necessary.

    Options please!
    edited May 2016
  • Reply 14 of 35
    hungeduhungedu Posts: 15member
    It appears someone at Apple read one of my suggestions for this last week. :-)
  • Reply 15 of 35
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    let's take a moment to identify another writing cliche -- the "Apple quietly X..." meme. it's lame. adding the word "quietly" is an attempt to frame or add context to the second part.
    edited May 2016 roundaboutnow
  • Reply 16 of 35
    maltzmaltz Posts: 350member
    Um, shouldn't the headline be more along the lines of "Apple corrects dialog for requesting passcode on iOS 9 Touch ID devices"?  This isn't new... my iPhone 6+ has operated this way as long as I've had it.  I didn't know the limit was 8 hours, exactly, but I could tell the 48 hour message was wrong.
  • Reply 17 of 35
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,631member
    It certainly has been that way for a while, as I have consistently had this experience. I was wondering why I kept having to enter my passcode if I hadn't used Touch ID in several hours. I was under the impression the rule was 24 hours, and never got an explanation for why it was much shorter than that. I wasn't the only one complaining about this "bug" either. Now we know.
    That's never happened to me.  I've only had to use the passcode after the phone has been shut off (I shut it off most nights).  

    With the latest iOS update (which I haven't loaded yet - I always now wait at least a week), it keeps telling me that I can schedule the update for some particular hours at night if I enter the passcode.    That's the first time I've seen that.   In the past it just asked if I wanted to run the update or "remind me later".   


  • Reply 18 of 35
    19831983 Posts: 1,225member
    "If Touch ID hasn't been used in the last eight hours" Does that mean every morning people will only be able to unlock their phone via the passcode? That's a little tedious.
  • Reply 19 of 35
    tdsmactdsmac Posts: 13member
    As other have said I see this as an initial step to block the ease of access to compel someone to unlock a phone. Currently, this would be the only solution for that "issue". I can see Apple making some enhancements though. For one, would be the ability to use touchID passcodes in that you set it to use multiple registered prints to unlock, in a particular sequence. Thus, its a fingerprint passcode and thus one can't just compel you to unlock since using a single print won't work.  Also, if the patent comes to fruition with touchID behind the display, this would make it easier to do this process, or have the ability to use mutiple fingers at once, like Customs Global Entry, or use your one finger but with a sequence done at different points on the screen in a particular order. All of this would make TouchID access an impossibility without knowing the exact code/sequence.   
  • Reply 20 of 35
    marklarkmarklark Posts: 28member
    Here's an idea that I haven't heard before:  Use a couple of fingers to unlock <-- It's an easy to remember combination/code that is protected by the 5th Amendment.
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