Apple is testing out new sign-in options for iCloud with its as-yet-unreleased operating systems, with support for both Face ID and Touch ID. It only works if you’re running one of the OS betas and you access iCloud via the beta.icloud.com URL in Safari.
As 9to5Mac reports, navigating to that link with all requirements met summons a pop-up asking if you’d like to sign into your Apple ID using either of the hardware-specific features. Though of course, your ability to actually do that depends on the hardware you’re using: if you don’t have something that supports Face ID or Touch ID, that’s that.
The report also notes that visiting the standard icloud.com website on a device with the beta OS installed should automatically redirect you to the beta.icloud URL.
The additional sign-in option should offer users more security, since you’re relying on an already approved biometric reading rather than typing out your information in what could be a public space. Of course, that also comes with concerns.
In a denied warrant request issued earlier in 2019, a California court ruled that police can’t force someone to give up their passcode, whether it’s alphanumeric or biometric. That would violate their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, the judge wrote.
That’s just one case, however; as David O’Brien, a senior researcher at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, told Mashable in January, “I am expecting that we’re not going to have the issue resolved until the Supreme Court picks it up.” Until the question is formally resolved — and possibly even after that, given the rocky state of the U.S. criminal justice system in 2019 — there’s always the possibility of police, border patrol, or some other official entity using your own biometrics against you.
Whether you regard Touch ID and Face ID support for the upcoming Apple OS releases as a good or bad thing, it’s another example of the big changes ahead for Apple customers. As 9to5Mac also points out, this feature in particular is likely tied to Sign in with Apple, which is essentially Apple’s version of a password manager (think LastPass).
The assorted new Apple operating systems should start hitting devices in fall 2019.