Software

Apple buys fingerprint security company AuthenTec

Apple could be bringing fingerprint- and iris-recognition to the next iPhone.

Apple has coughed up $356 million (£226 million) for a biometric security company called AuthenTec, Reuters reports.

AuthenTec specialises in fingerprint- and iris-recognition, so you don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to suggest we could see either or both in the next iPhone. But the best part? AuthenTec signed a deal with Samsung less than two weeks ago. Looks like this Apple/Samsung fight isn't going to stop anytime soon.

Fingerprint- and iris-recognition have featured in phones before, but they've never been that useful. Though the same could be said of voice-recognition before Apple came along with Siri, so who knows what the Cupertino company could do with it?

Samsung's Galaxy S3 can recognise when you're looking at the screen, and keep it lit until you avert your gaze, so maybe Apple is planning something similar with its next iPhone. Perhaps though, with fingerprint-recognition, it has security more on its mind.

AuthenTec also makes technology that connects devices securely using virtual private networks (VPNs). It's possible that Apple could be trying to make inroads into the business market that has previously been the preserve of Windows Phone and BlackBerry.

We could also see an increase in workers using their own devices in the office (in a kind of 'bring your gadget to work' day, I like to imagine), as your iPhone and iPad should be able to connect to the corporate network with minimal hassle.

In Japan, AuthenTec's tech is also used for authenticating mobile payments, meaning Apple could utilise it for Passbook (which is thought to be laying the groundwork to get the iPhone working as a digital wallet). Dedicated fingerprint recognition would also be a real weapon against Google and its Wallet software of mobile payments.

The next iPhone is expected to be unveiled in October, when I think all will be revealed. How do you think Apple will use the tech? Let me know in the comments, or on Facebook.