Apple Job Posting Points to Chip Design in Florida

| Analysis

An Apple job posting for a software engineer points to chip development in Florida. The job is in Melbourne, Florida, at a previously unknown facility called the Melbourne Design Center. That is (most likely not) coincidentally where fingerprint technology firm AuthenTec is located, a company Apple bought in 2012.

Apple purchased AuthenTec for $365 million, making it one of the largest acquisitions in Apple's history. Apple hasn't said what it will do with the company, but AuthenTec developed security technology and chips used in fingerprint recognition.

Typically, when Apple buys a company, it's buying technology and/or talent that it will then incorporate into its growing ecosystem of hardware, software, and services. Many believe that AuthenTec was bought so that Apple could integrate fingerprint authentication into its iOS devices, possibly in conjunction with near field communication (NFC) applications—think mobile payments.

The job posting is for a software engineer who can, "write low level code to configure and control hardware." More specifically, the applicant will, "Develop, maintain, update and optimize the 'LabTool”'software that is used for lab evaluation and characterization of the Melbourne Design Center sensor ICs."

A reasonable reading says that Apple is maintaining the AuthenTec facilities in Melbourne, and that chip design work continues at that facility.

Which brings us to what that might mean. A lot of noise has been made about the lack of innovative new products and/or new product categories in the roughly 17 months since Tim Cook took over as CEO of Apple.

Above and beyond the reality that 17 months is proof of precisely diddly squat, this job posting is a specific reminder that Apple is continuing development behind the scenes of any number of new products and technologies.

The area of NFC is a prime example where Apple can change the rules. There are many Android devices on the market with NFC capabilities, but there is little that anyone actually does with it. There are even NFC-based payment solutions on the market, but very few people use them.

The reason, of course, is that Apple hasn't shown the world how to to do it properly. With AuthenTec's technology, Apple can not only do that—show the world what to do with NFC—it can so in a way where it controls a key technology. In this case, that's fingerprint-based authentication.

AppleInsider first found the job posting.

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Comments

ibuck

Fingerprint recognition would be a big differentiator for Apple’s mobile devices, and probably also on Macs or their keyboard/pointing devices. But rather than add a half-baked implementation, Apple will probably wait until verification and mobile payments “it just works” and is foolproof.  One would hope that one’s iPad, iPod or iPhone would still be useable for one’s spouse, child, family, just without access to the accounts, documents, address book, or other private info thereon. Yes, Apple, Multiple users. And brick-able if lost/stolen.

MacFrogger

Brian wrote: “Many believe that AuthenTec was bought so that Apple could integrate fingerprint authentication into its iOS devices, possibly in conjunction with near field communication (NFC) applications—think mobile payments.”

Agreed.  Apple could implement this to work as a pretty solid two-factor authentication system.  One can easily envision a mobile payment on a next gen iPhone as not being complete until the user presses the “home” button, which scans and certifies the fingerprint as the “second key.” This would be very secure, and also very slick - much slicker than doing an iris scan!

Lee Dronick

One would hope that one’s iPad, iPod or iPhone would still be useable for one’s spouse, child, family, just without access to the accounts, documents, address book, or other private info thereon. Yes, Apple, Multiple users. And brick-able if lost/stolen.

I would hope so, I need to do tech support and stuff on my wife’s iPhone.

AlexJ

Wireless charging will not happen though, because apple now use a metal back over the battery.

Lee Dronick

Alex, if Apple wanted wireless charging then they could redesign the iPhone.

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