Apple patent describes a fingerprint ‘panic mode’

A new Apple patent filing reveals that Apple may be working on a way to have an iPhone secretly enter a “panic mode” when unlocked using Touch ID with a specific finger. The patent, titled “Fingerprint Activation of a Panic Mode of Operation for a Mobile Device” and dated May 5, 2014, describes how a different mode of operation could be engaged by the detection of a specific finger on a fingerprint sensor, activating a “panic mode of operation” that would “automatically alter at least one standard operation of the mobile device,” such as restricting access to personal data stored on the device. The patent further describes how users could register multiple fingerprints to be associated with different modes of operation, presumably taking the implementation beyond a mere “panic mode” feature into calling up specific usage modes or profiles based on the finger used to unlock the device.
Other modes described by Apple as examples in the patent filing include disabling functions of the mobile device, displaying a user interface that “provides an appearance of the mobile device having a set of default factory settings,” locking out access to personal information, “emitting a beacon signal,” sending an alert to an emergency service provider over the cellular network, taking a photograph or video with the camera, or recording audio using the microphone. As with all of Apple’s patent filings, the mere existence of a patent doesn’t necessarily mean that Apple is even working on this technology, however. [via Business Insider]


Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.