Fears over security and device access are at an all-time high, especially as law enforcement agencies are becoming increasingly crafty in their methods of gaining access to them. Because of this, Apple has baked an intriguing new safety and security feature into iOS 11.
This ‘cop button’ will allow iPhone users to quickly and discreetly disable Touch ID, call 911, or both, by merely tapping on their handset’s power button five times rapidly, according to a report from The Verge, who alleges they were able to verify that the feature works in the latest iOS 11 public beta.
Discovered by Twitter user @alt_kia, iPhone users will be able to configure the new SOS/Touch ID feature by going into Settings > Touch ID on their device and selecting their option preferences from the sub-menu.
iOS 11 is a game-changer for Touch ID. Press power button rapidly 5 times and it opens the 2nd screen, but it also forces passphrase entry! pic.twitter.com/uvWbM04lyk
— Kia☆ (@alt_kia) August 17, 2017
By default, the feature will temporarily disable Touch ID until such time that the user enters their passcode, however there’s also an option to have the iPhone dial 911 (or your country’s default emergency services hotline) in cases of emergency where actually calling and speaking may be prohibitive.
The method provides users with a far more discrete way of temporarily locking out an iPhone, which would come in handy if you ever found yourself in a situation where you’re forced to unlock the device by a police officer. In previous cases, users had claimed to have “forgotten” their passcode, delaying entry into their device.
Before the ‘cop button’ users had two somewhat complicated options for disabling Touch ID manually — one requiring a device to be restarted, waiting a bit until the device automatically prompts to enter a passcode, and then using a finger NOT registered for Touch ID access a few times to invoke a lockout. Alternatively, Touch ID could always be disabled in iOS Settings; however, in case of emergency, that wouldn’t be a particularly practical method.