iPhone 7 could have ‘panic mode’, triggered by putting a specific finger on the phone’s fingerprint sensor

New patent shows a system for shutting the phone down and sending its location to authorities, so that it can be made useless to thieves and get found more easily

Apple could introduce a special “panic mode” to new iPhones that will allow them to shut down and go into an emergency setting if their owners are in danger.

Newly-published patents show plans to allow people to place a specific finger on their phones fingerprint sensor, shutting the phone down, alerting authorities and helping it get tracked if it has been stolen.

The phone’s panic mode could work as a traditional alarm, turning on a klaxon that would blare until users tell the phone that they’re safe.

The panic mode could also turn on the phone’s camera and microphone, helping capture data from the robbery. It could also send information on the phone’s physical position to authorities, who could come to the aid of the phone’s owner and track down the handset.

Users would choose one of their fingers to operate the mode, and holding that down would send it into the special mode rather than unlocking it.

Apple allows people to enter five different fingerprints into their phone at the moment. If the feature were added, Apple would presumably allow people to designate one of those fingers, or an extra one, as the emergency fingerprint.

Apple applies for a huge variety of patents, many of which are published and then never used. But the company has been working to make phones harder to steal, a move that has been said to have reduced handset thefts across the industry.

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