Apple is adding an easy way to quickly disable Touch ID in iOS 11. A new setting, designed to automate emergency services calls, lets iPhone users tap the power button quickly five times to call 911. This doesn’t automatically dial the emergency services by default, but it brings up the option to and also temporarily disables Touch ID until you enter a passcode. Twitter users discovered the new option in the iOS 11 public beta, and The Verge has verified it works as intended.
Previously, if you wanted to temporarily disable Touch ID you’d need to restart an iPhone, wait for a few days when the device automatically prompts for the passcode, awkwardly use a different finger a few times to force it to lock out, or just disable Touch ID in settings. Apple’s new method is a far more discreet way of locking out a phone, especially if you’re in a situation where you’re worried someone might force you to unlock your phone.
Unlocking phones with a fingerprint sensor is a hot topic for law enforcement requests, and police in Michigan even 3D-printed a murder victim’s fingerprint to gain access to a device. With fears over access to devices at border control points around the world, this quick trick will at least prevent Touch ID from being used until a passcode is entered.
The new iOS 11 feature is even more relevant when you consider that Apple is expected to introduce face unlocking with the next iPhone. The ability to quickly disable Touch ID or face unlock features with iOS 11 could be even more useful in a scenario where you might not need to be physically forced to unlock a phone. iOS 11 is likely to roll out to existing devices next month, and the public beta is available right now for those brave enough to test it.