iOS 11’s SOS Feature Allows You to Temporarily Disable Touch ID and Require Passcode

Juli Clover, writing for MacRumors:

Emergency SOS is activated by pressing on the sleep/wake button of an iPhone five times in rapid succession. When the requisite number of presses is complete, it brings up a screen that offers buttons to power off the iPhone, bring up your Medical ID (if filled out) and make an emergency 911 call.

Along with these options, there’s also a cancel button. If you hit the sleep/wake button five times and then hit cancel, it disables Touch ID and requires a passcode before Touch ID can be re-enabled. Touch ID is also disabled if you actually make an emergency call.

This is a handy hidden feature because it allows Touch ID to be disabled discretely in situations where someone might be able to force a phone to be unlocked with a fingerprint, such as a robbery or an arrest. With Touch ID disabled in this way, there is no way to physically unlock an iPhone with a finger without the device’s passcode.

It’s also worth noting that there’s no real way to tell that Touch ID has been disabled in this manner.

This is a fantastic feature. In addition to being useful for anyone with Touch ID, it will also assuage concerns over coerced unlocking of your phone with a facial ID scanner (which is widely believed to be coming in the new high-end iPhone).

Once iOS 11 ships, spread the word about this to your friends and family.

Update: Some great details about how Apple has implemented this:

  • If you actually make an SOS phone call, iOS does not lock you out of using Touch ID. That is, if it’s an actual emergency, Apple doesn’t want to make it harder to unlock your phone.

  • There’s a bit of haptic feedback when this feature is invoked, so you can do this discreetly in your pocket and know you hit it.

  • In the current developer beta (beta 6), the display stays on indefinitely while in Emergency SOS mode. You have to tap the on-screen Cancel button to get the screen to turn off. In a future beta, hitting the power button one more time should darken the display again. That way, you can disable Touch ID and turn off the display without ever removing your iPhone from your pocket.

Friday, 18 August 2017