Apple is a company that certainly has its fair share of patents. After all, patents tend to be the modern day “ammunition”, where you can own a patent and make millions, even billions of dollars potentially as long as other companies pay you royalties or licensing fees to use the patents that are under your charge. Having said that, a long running rumor points to Apple working on a kind of fingerprint recognition technology which could eventually find its way to future versions of an iDevice, regardless of whether it is a tablet or smartphone. Not only that, a PayPal executive did suggest recently that this technology might work hand-in-glove with a new authentication paradigm which could eventually lead to a mobile payment system of its own.
There are other rumors that point to this mobile fingerprint scanner being incorporated into a capacitive home key that is made of sapphire for the next generation iPhone, but it seems that previously leaked photos of alleged iPhone 5 successors all come with the same Home key cutout, hence doing their best to debunk such a possibility. Still, there is hope that a Home key/fingerprint scanner combo would still be alive thanks to this February filed patent that you see above.