What it is: Apple filed a patent for a special use for its TouchID fingerprint sensor.
Besides customer service and simple operating system upgrades, Apple has found two new ways to differentiate the iPhone from its Android competitors. First, the latest iPhone 6s offers 3D Touch, which can recognize the difference between a hard press and a soft tap. This makes it easy to use a hard press as a shortcut to access features without wading through multiple layers of menus.
A second way Apple differentiates the iPhone from rivals is through its TouchID fingerprint sensor. To make TouchID even more useful, Apple has patented a panic mode feature for a future version of the iPhone.
The idea behind panic mode would be that if you put a different finger on the TouchID fingerprint sensor, that could trigger a panic mode, which would allow you to capture audio and images of people and places around you so you could upload those images to iCloud. This way the police would be able to see the last images your iPhone captured in case they can’t talk directly to you (because you’re gone, killed, etc.).
It was easy for Android to mimic the iPhone’s user interface, but it’s harder for Android phones to mimic the TouchID fingerprint sensor and even more difficult to emulate the 3D Touch feature. All of these additional iPhone features keep the iPhone recognized as the market leader while everyone else struggles to copy as fast as they can.
Panic mode might be just one more way Apple can make the iPhone better than its rivals with a unique feature that others can’t mimic easily. It may not be a killer feature like the original touch screen interface was, but it can still prove important nevertheless. Panic mode might seem like a trivial feature, but as each new feature keeps adding up, it makes it harder for rivals to keep up. Rivals may offer just as many or in some cases more features than the iPhone, but they’re handicapped to their own devices.
Samsung offered a feature allowing tow Samsung phones to bump each other to exchange data. Unfortunately, that only worked with specific Samsung phones. Even though Samsung ran on Android, this bump to share data feature wouldn’t work with other Android phones, and that’s Android’s biggest handicap.
As Apple continues minor and major innovations on the iPhone, expect them to keep distancing themselves from their Android rivals. Eventually Android won’t be able to offer just as many features as the iPhone and when that happens, that’s the end of people caring about Android any more.