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iPhone 5S fingerprint sensor seemingly confirmed

iPhone 5S Fingerprint Scanner

Apple is getting closer to launching the next version of the iPhone later this year. If the Cupertino, Calif.-based company wants to keep up with Samsung, Google and others, it needs to innovate. And fast. That’s where the tip of your finger comes in to play.

Michael Barrett, chief information security officer of PayPal, hinted that Apple and other smartphone manufacturers are going to incorporate fingerprint readers on their smartphones as part of new way to protect personal information. “It’s widely rumored that a large technology provider in Cupertino, Calif., will come out with a phone later this year that has a fingerprint reader on it,” he said.

This rumor has been around for a while, but it’s the first time we’ve heard an executive at a major company seemingly confirm it. “There is going to be a fingerprint enabled phone on the market later this year,” Barrett said during a keynote address at Interop. “Not just one, multiple.”

Apple’s purchase of AuthenTec is going to play a major part in this. It was a shrewd move that CEO Tim Cook made that has gone largely unnoticed. Not only will the technology provide Apple with a cool new feature designed to get away from passwords, but AuthenTec was a major supplier to Samsung. Cook simultaneously hurt Samsung, while helping Apple. Not bad for a guy who some have wrongfully said should lose his job, amid a steep decline in the stock.

Earnings and revenue have slowed drastically year-over-year, and though the third quarter may be the earnings trough as Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White suggests it is, Apple still needs to show to the market and consumers its products are “must-have.”

Apple needs a hit feature on the next iPhone to show that innovation is alive and well in Cupertino. Fingerprint scanning technology, along with an updated version of iOS 7, could be just that.