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Inside iOS 11: New security feature allows users to temporarily disable Touch ID, quickly call 911

By Neil Hughes

The latest beta release of iOS 11 includes a new security feature, with a few button presses making it impossible to unlock your phone with Touch ID, as well as giving a quick option to dial 911. Here's how to use it.

Screenshots via Twitter user @alt_kia.

The new iOS 11 feature might allow iPhone owners who find themselves in a dangerous situation to ensure their phone cannot be forcefully unlocked with a fingerprint. It will also make it easier to contact emergency services if the person is in danger or threatened.

To access it, in iOS 11, a user must just press the lock/power button five times quickly. Pressing five times does not automatically dial 911, but it presents the user with an option to do so.

The security feature, publicized by The Verge, also temporarily disables Touch ID, requiring users to enter a passcode to unlock their device. This would prevent a would-be thief or attacker from forcing a user's fingerprint onto the iPhone's home button to unlock it.

The functionality could become even more useful with Apple's anticipated "iPhone 8", which is widely expected to offer a new facial recognition unlock method. It has been said that Apple's system will be able to recognize a user at extreme angles, including while the phone is flat on a table.

While this new security method would offer greater convenience of automatically unlocking an iPhone, it could also present new security challenges -- rather than needing to force a user's finger onto an iPhone, an unauthorized user could instead just hold it in front of their face.

With this new security method, if a person felt like they were in a position that someone would try to forcibly bypass their iPhone's security, whether with Touch ID or a rumored "Face ID," the instant-unlock capabilities could be disabled.

Previously, a user would need to completely restart their phone, or to purposefully attempt to unlock multiple times with an unrecognized finger, to have a password be required on demand.

For more on Apple's forthcoming mobile operating system update, see AppleInsider's ongoing Inside iOS 11 series.

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