The new iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite introduced awesome technologies that would change the way Apple users maintain their privacy and security. The revolutionary Touch ID, first launched with the iPhone 5S, allowed users to unlock their devices through a fingerprint reader. Until now, Touch ID allowed iOS 7 users to unlock only certain features but the recent update to iOS 8 extends the functionality to third party apps. This allows you to unlock a number of apps and services with your fingerprint instead of typing lengthy login and password combinations. Programmers have developed apps that could unlock your Mac using your Touch ID credentials from your iPhone allowing additional security and usability among your Apple devices.
What is Touch ID and Why Should You Care?
The newly introduced iOS 8 and OSX Yosemite have a bunch of additional features that take the Apple family to a whole new level. One of its defining features is HandOff. The technology aims to synchronize application states among your numerous Apple devices. Therefore you can easily continue writing a mail on your Mac that you started writing on your iPad.
The preservation of application states allows users to work seamlessly across devices without having to save, exit, and re-launch applications if they need to switch devices. But one major drawback with the HandOff feature is the lack of Touch ID authentication across devices. Therefore, your Apple devices have no inbuilt apps or hardware that allows you to unlock your Mac from your iPhone or vice versa.
But the Touch ID API allowed developers to test login procedures with the help of Touch ID credentials. Now some developers have already launched applications that allow handoff compatible and Bluetooth-LE embedded Mac systems to be unlocked with their iPhone’s Touch ID credentials.
Security and Applications of Touch ID
The security and privacy protection offered by Touch ID has been a topic of great debate since the introduction of the technology. But the counter argument proves that the fingerprint-based authentication procedure is much more secure than the traditional credential-based authentication. Statistics have shown that majority of iPhone users don’t lock their phone mainly because of the passcode-based login system. This makes them prone to security and privacy intrusion even when they are extremely careful.
Therefore, the Touch ID makes it extremely easy to login to your device without having to type long and lengthy passwords. It also allows you to authenticate your Apple Pay credentials. The biometric hash generated from your fingerprints is stored in the secure enclave to protect unauthorized access to your identity. Every time an application requests access to your identity, a unique authentication code is sent to the app allowing you to login to apps and other devices.
How to unlock your Mac using Touch ID on your iPhone
Developers have designed apps that use Bluetooth 4.0(LE) with 256-bit encryption to establish a secure connection between your Mac and iPhone. The apps use the biometric authentication key from your Touch ID sensor to transfer authentication information from your handheld device to your Mac.
You should own a Mac that supports Bluetooth-LE, install the apps on your device and your Mac, and pair them to identify each other for authentication.
Once the setup is complete, you can launch the app and place your finger on the Touch ID to unlock your Mac if it is within the range of your Bluetooth.
Although the process is not as fast as typing your password, it does provide an additional layer of security. Moreover, it comes in handy if you have difficulty remembering and entering a tough password every time you login.
Apps You Should Consider
The FingerKey app lets its users unlock their Mac from their iPhone 5, 6 or 6 Plus devices. It allows unlocking of multiple Apple devices at once if they are within the Bluetooth range.
All you have to do is fire up the app and put your finger on the home button.
Then select the system you want to unlock and within seconds you will notice your Touch ID credentials getting automatically verified on your Mac system.
It comes with an additional Notification center widget that eases the process and allows multiple mac logins at the same time.
Another similar app is KeyTouch that aims to extend its capability to other operating systems in the near future. Before you can install the application on your devices, you need to check their compatibility with your system as the apps can only run on devices that support the HandOff feature.
Experts expect Apple to release an official app for the process but in the meantime the users have to use third party apps on their handheld devices to authenticate themselves with their Mac. Such an official app would have streamlined the login process and eliminated additional third party app installations.