More Detail Emerges on Home Button with Fingerprint Sensor

According to the website Electronista, a post by China Telecom accidentally confirmed that Apple will be announcing the iPhone 5S and 5C next Tuesday. As if there were any doubt by now. Details on the new iPhone 5S continue to emerge, including some clues about the Home button/fingerprint sensor. According to AppleInsider, it appears that Apple will place a subtle silver ring around the Home button to differentiate the fingerprint-enabled button from its appearance on the other iPhones. 

An earlier report that I saw suggested the button would be convex, but AppleInsider says it will be indented as in the previous iPhone models. The evidence for the appearance of the Home button with silver ring was bolstered in part by photos of boxes containing the new phone, with the image on the box showing a ring. Of course, there's no way of knowing whether the photos are genuine, but they seem to be. The use of a silver ring is also suggested by the presence of plain rings on the invitation.

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AppleInsider suggests the purpose of the ring is to let iPhone users quickly identify which models have the fingerprint sensor, since the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S will have the same form factor. (Imagine one spouse having a 5 and the other having a 5S. Without the distinguishing characteristic, hubby might inadvertently grab his spouse's phone as he heads out the door. Apple thinks of everything.)

So far a fair amount of evidence has emerged that suggests the new phone will have a fingerprint sensor. Apple purchased AuthenTec, a specialist in this technology, in the summer of 2012. That peaked everyone's interest. Then a developer noticed code in iOS 7 that seemed related to a fingerprint sensor. And recently a photo of the component was leaked and posted on an Australian website.

In other news, according to AppleInsider, the Wall Street Journal claims that Apple is working on prototype phones with screen sizes ranging from 4.8 to 6 inches. The WSJ's sources say that Apple is now more open to offering a "phablet," that is, a device that's a cross between a phone and a tablet. The report says that Apple is the most interested in the 4.8-inch size. Don't read too much into this, though. Apple is always producing a lot of prototypes in an effort to identify which form factor they think people will love. Most of the prototypes never go beyond that stage.

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Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.