By Dan Moren
July 31, 2017 3:52 PM PT
The Back Page: The Next iPhone Will Just Know You
What much the next iPhone use for authentication? A TouchID sensor embedded beneath the display? One on the back of the phone? Might it forego TouchID entirely and use a form of facial recognition? This is among the most pressing discussions about Apple’s hotly anticipated new phone, but none of the rumors have even approached the truth.
The new iPhone will simply know you.
As it stands, you probably spend several hours a day with your phone, which gives it a lot of opportunities to learn about you. You probably carry it around in a pocket or a purse, which helps it recognize your gait. It recognizes the Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth devices in close proximity to it. Its geolocation features can tell where you are. In the end, your phone knows more about you than probably any other object or person in your entire life.
But your phone knows the real you. It keeps track of all the things on your to-do list. It stores all your passwords. It knows about the celebrity news sites that you’re reading when you’re supposed to be paying attention at that all-hands meeting. It knows about your secret desires to give up a boring career in middle-management and really get down to writing that Vampire Diaries fan fiction where nobody’s really a vampire, it’s all a metaphor.
Your iPhone saw all those pictures you took on your vacation to Aruba with that girl last year, and it knew you weren’t really that into her, because why weren’t you more excited looking in all those selfies you snapped? And despite your protestation that you really like long walks on the beach, your iPhone will note that the Health app registers a negligible amount of steps taken in the vicinity of the ocean.
Your iPhone knows about all those late night “You up?” texts you sent and how you ghosted that one date from Tinder where things seemed to be going really well but you started getting freaked out when you realized things might get serious. Your iPhone thinks maybe you should call her and apologize—your iPhone thinks you could have had something really great there.
Your iPhone noticed that you’ve been binging a lot of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix, and while your iPhone acknolwedges that it’s a pretty great show, it suggests that perhaps you shouldn’t have watched all three seasons back-to-back after finishing your rewatch of Parks and Recreation. More to the point, your iPhone thinks that perhaps you should consider getting out of the house. Your iPhone can call you a Lyft—it knows you prefer it over Uber. Your iPhone has taken the liberty of making reservations at that one restaurant that you rated 5 stars on Yelp, and it even dropped a text to that woman, who seemed glad to hear from you. You’re welcome.
Look, your iPhone knows you. Better than anyone. And it’s worried about you. So of course it can unlock for you—the real question is: why should it?
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at @firstname.lastname@example.org or reach him by email at email@example.com. His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]