Apple doesn't walk on water. Nor does Touch ID.

Steve Jobs' genius turned Apple into a three-time market disruptor with the introduction of the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Those were amazing feats that happened because of Jobs. Now that he's gone, Apple is unlikely to throw a fourth market into turmoil.

Nevertheless, the company's fans and the tech media still see Apple through the prism of Jobs' achievements, and are too quick to declare its latest technology a game changer, which is what happened with Touch ID in the new iPhone 5s.

Reality Strikes

Even though a fingerprint scanner has been built before into a smartphone, because it came from Apple, this biometric sensor  suddenly had the potential of ushering in a new era in mobile security. Soon rivals would be including their own scanners and security-confident smartphone buyers would go on shopping sprees using their phones instead of credit cards.

Then came reality, the buzz killer.

A group of German hackers called the Chaos Computer Club showed that Apple's invention was no more secure than the majority of scanners in the market.

By creating a latex copy of someone's fingerprint from a high-resolution photo, the hackers easily outsmarted Touch ID. The technique wasn't new and had been used for some time to defeat fingerprint sensors.

This did not surprise security researchers. Many of them believe fingerprints are a poor means of authentication, because people leave them everywhere, including on the glass of a smartphone.

"It's like you have a very strong password, but you write it on paper and leave the paper everywhere," Tielei Wang, a mobile security researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology, told me.

Charlie Miller, a researcher well-known in security circles for hacking Apple products, said the company's scanner is only better than no security at all.

"It does not provide a mechanism to keep out guys like me, professional criminals, or law enforcement, but if your goal is to keep your wife out of your text messages or stop your kids from buying apps on your phone, it is more than sufficient," he said.

Apple has not touted Touch ID as a password replacement. "Touch ID is designed to minimise the input of your passcode; but your passcode will be needed for additional security validation," the company says.

Translation: Touch ID is built to unlock your phone quickly.

Now, before someone calls me an Android-loving Apple hater, I confess that I use all Apple products for my personal computing and for my home Wi-Fi network. I like the company's gadgets because they work well together and are mostly hassle free.

However, the day Apple is no longer able to meet my needs, I'll drop its stuff faster than the company would fire workers if iPhone sales tanked. The smartphone accounts for more than half of Apple's overall revenue.

iPhone Secure Enclave

From a security perspective, what is interesting in the iPhone 5s is a component Apple calls the Secure Enclave in its A7 processor. While the component is used to encrypt, store and secure the iPhone user's fingerprint, the technology could open up some interesting possibilities in the future.

The trend in mobile devices is to adopt this kind of hardware-level security as the foundation for securing applications and services, such as mobile payments, banking and enterprise applications and premium content services.

What Apple has planned for this technology is not known and the secretive company is unlikely to show its hand until it releases product. While I expect Apple to come out with something good, I do not believe it will shatter any markets.

After all, Apple didn't walk on water when Jobs was alive, and it certainly doesn't now.

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