Touch ID and iOS 8 Features

Apple wants you to give the iPhone 5s 6, or 6 Plus the finger. But only in a good way. Setting up passcode safeguards is a good idea. But, passcodes can be a hassle at times, such as when you’re holding an umbrella in one hand and tapping a passcode with the other.

Apple says that about half the folks with an iPhone don’t even bother with passcodes, and that’s unfortunate because you don’t want to let just anybody get at your personal information.

Enter the iPhones with Touch ID, a fingerprint scanner cleverly embedded in the Home button. With a gentle press of any designated finger, you bypass your passcode.

What’s more, you can use your own digit (not the numerical kind) to authenticate iTunes and App Store purchases. (Go to Settings under Touch ID & Passcode to make sure that the iTunes & App Store switch is turned on.)

The 6 and 6 Plus afford you another benefit, the ability to purchase stuff at retail (and online) by using a payment technology known as Apple Pay. By holding the phone in a store near a compatible contactless reader and keeping your finger against the Touch ID button, you can complete a purchase securely. Apple has already forged partnerships with leading credit card companies, banks, and merchants.

With the arrival of iOS 8 software, Apple opened up Touch ID to third-party app developers.

You won’t have to use your fingerprint as a shortcut to enter web account names or passwords. A feature known as iCloud Keychain keeps your credit cards and passwords encrypted and saved on your iPhone and other approved devices, and handles the autofill chores on many of the websites you might visit.

To set up Touch ID, you must first let your iPhone get chummy with at least one of your fingers, though the system can handle up to five individual fingers, yours or anyone else’s with whom you share the iPhone.

The phone instructs you to press and lift your finger against the Home button repeatedly and from different orientations. Red lines fill an animated drawing of a generic fingerprint on the screen, giving you a sense of how far along you are. The process doesn’t take long, and if all goes smoothly, the iPhone will soon enough declare your efforts to be a success.

What could go wrong? Well, you will have to make sure your designated digit is dry. The phone needs to see your entire fingerprint, so don’t try this with a bandaged finger or one that has open wounds.

To add fingers after the initial setup, tap Settings→Touch ID & Passcode. Type your passcode, and then tap Add a Fingerprint. Then repeat the setup drill.

Whether you choose to set up fingerprint authentication now, later, or not at all, you should still establish an old-fashioned four-digit passcode as well. In fact, if you do opt to go with Touch ID, you must set up a passcode as a backup should the iPhone fail to recognize your paw three times in a row. Hey, it happens.

Touch ID works mostly like a charm, but give your pinky a try if you run into trouble, what with the small surface area of the phone and all. After you get accustomed to using Touch ID, going back and typing passcodes seemed antiquated.