Latest Apple patent shows iPhone 5S fingerprint scanner may be on the screen

Cupertino-based Apple's latest patent filing with the US Patent and Trademark Office could give a solid indication of one of the highlight features of its iPhone 5S, which is rumoured to hit this autumn. Many publications have reported that a fingerprint sensor will be present on the iPhone 5S, but Apple might have a trick up its sleeve to make it better than originally thought. 

According to the patent filing, the sensor would be on the display, rather than attached to the aluminium of the device or the home button. This would be an interesting approach, not only for the sleekness of the handset as a whole, but also because it's never really been done on a large scale before - only in the enterprise space. 

So why would you need a fingerprint sensor on a smartphone anyway? Well, it's actually more useful than you'd think, making for a great safeguard to unlock the device (rather than slide-to-unlock) and as a way to make purchases from iTunes more securely.

Given the "5S" nature of Apple's next smartphone, rather than "6", many pundits have suggested that Apple needs a few breakaway features to make the device worth buying - rather than just an upgraded processor, camera and other specifications. 

Apart from a fingerprint sensor, several publications have noted that NFC technology may be present. NFC, of course, is featured in many Android and Windows Phone smartphones to enable mobile payments by just tapping the device to another NFC sensor. 

Apple is known for making quite a few patent filings for technology that never sees the light of day, but given what we've been hearing about the iPhone 5S, we thought this was worth sharing. It's also worth noting this Apple's first fingerprint sensor patent filing mentioning the iPhone.