Apple has filed a patent for a Touch ID-enabled security feature that would allow users to put their iPhone into “panic mode” by unlocking it with a specific finger. The patent describes a number of potential functions for the feature, such as protecting personal information or just resetting the smartphone entirely, all of which seem to be designed to allow users to protect themselves in the event that they’re forced to use their fingerprint to unlock their iPhone. Such event could be brought about by anything from law enforcement to robbers.
Thanks to innovations like Apple Pay, Touch ID has become increasingly useful as of late. But Apple’s got another idea it’s been toying with also — in the form of a “panic mode,” which can be entered by unlocking your iPhone with a certain finger. Apple offers a few differing versions of what this panic mode might do. In some, it would simply lock down the phone and limit access to personal data. In others, it could surreptitiously record video or snap photos of the person using the phone — something which would be ideal if an iPhone is stolen. In still others, the mode would activate the iPhone’s microphone, so that users could be quickly connected to the police; be made to sound a loud alarm; or transmit a distress message to selected other iPhones. As Apple explains it: “Depending on the fingerprint that was captured, a particular action may be carried out when the device is unlocked. In one example, a fingerprint of an index finger may indicate that a call is to be placed. When the fingerprint of the user’s index finger is captured, when the mobile device is unlocked, a telephone application may be launched to allow the user to place a call after the mobile device has been unlocked.”