The iPhone 5 was undoubtedly a slim, attractive and nicely-specced phone. But unless you were overly excited by the extra row of homescreen icons, it wasn't exactly chock full of standout new features.

But now we're well on the way towards the next iPhone, and it looks like at least one new feature may just kickstart Apple's diminished reputation for true hardware innovation.

According to reports, the iPhone 5S, or iPhone 6, or whatever it will be called, may include a form of fingerprint recognition.

The rumour suggests that a scanner may be built into the display, and allow users to unlock their devices using their fingerprints alone.

This idea isn't new, and neither are the rumours. Apple recently purchased AuthenTec, a biometric and NFC security company, and earlier this month described how such a system would work in a patent application filed in America.

Despite those tidbits of news, most analysts maintained that real-world implementation was a little way off. Indeed, Apple is known for registering patents that don't eventually come to fruition - or take years to do so.

But now a string of code discovered in the latest beta test of Apple's forthcoming iOS 7 software suggests that it might be coming in the next hardware update:


The code refers to a users touching the home button with their thumb, after which a fingerprint appears on the screen which changes colour when it recognises a match.

A folder named "Biometric Kit" was also found in the code, and the evidence was published on Twitter. Other devices including some Motorola handsets and the Lenovo ThinkPad T430 laptop already have fingerprint recognition built in, but its inclusion in the iPhone would mark a new breakthrough for the technology.

It's not proof - far from it - but it's good evidence that your iPhone might soon get a lot more secure. And more difficult to use with gloves.

The next iPhone is rumoured to appear in September or October, alongside a cheaper plastic version designed principally for developing markets.