Apple Adds New Passcode Requirement for Touch ID

Has your iPhone or iPad been asking you to enter your passcode after you wake up, even though you normally used to unlock it with Touch ID? You’re not alone. As first discovered by MacWorld’s Glenn Fleishman, this is the result of a new Touch ID rule which Apple quietly implemented since iOS 9 was released.

MacWorld reports that Apple has secretly added a new Touch ID rule in iOS. The new rule requires a user to enter a passcode to unlock their iPhone or iPad when the device has not been unlocked using a passcode for six consecutive days and has not been unlocked using Touch ID in the last eight hours

This is likely going to be a pretty common scenario that many iPhone and iPad owners are going to face, since the Touch ID sensor is very accurate and reliable, which makes entering passcode to unlock and iOS device a redundant method. I almost exclusively use Touch ID to unlock my iPad and the device does sit idle for more than 8 hours at a stretch without me using it.

“It’s a rolling timeout, so each time Touch ID unlocks a device, a new eight-hour timer starts to tick down until the passcode is required,” Fleishman explains.

To refresh your memory, and based on Apple’s refreshed iOS Security Guide, the passcode is required instead of Touch ID under the following circumstances:
  • The device has just been turned on or restarted
  • The device has not been unlocked for more than 48 hours
  • The passcode has not been used to unlock the device in the last six days and TouchID has not unlocked the device in the last eight hours
  • The device has received a remote lock command
  • After five unsuccessful attempts to match a fingerprint
  • When setting up or enrolling new fingers with Touch ID

.Apple declined to explain the rationale for this new restriction, but Fleishman suspects it might have something to do with preventing a law enforcement or other government agent or a malicious party to force suspects to incriminate themselves by obtaining a court order requiring them to unlock a seized device with their fingerprint.

“There would typically be no way for another party to know if the six-day period had passed, nor whether Touch ID had been used in the previous eight hours to unlock the iPhone or iPad,” he wrote.

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