In talking about my iPhone 5s, I mentioned how when Touch ID is enabled it’s no longer possible to have a delay before the passcode (or Touch ID) is required. Dan Stillman goes into much more detail about the problems:
First, it greatly increases the number of times per day that Touch ID has to work. When functioning properly, Touch ID is remarkably accurate and a delight to use. Yet it still occasionally fails to read my thumb on the first one or two tries, and it’s stymied by moisture or dirt. If I were only authenticating as often as I used to enter my passcode, it would easily be a net win — after all, I didn’t always get my passcode right on the first try either. Having to authenticate on every unlock, though, anything short of 100% accuracy for the scanner quickly becomes tedious.
Unfortunately, with Touch ID enabled, sliding to unlock is now never sufficient on its own, meaning that you have to either enter the passcode or adjust your grip to reach all the way to the home button each time. If you’re waking your phone repeatedly — say, to check your position on a map, or to return to something you’re reading — this gets annoying quickly.
Requiring the passcode immediately also impairs basic iOS functionality: the ability to swipe across lock screen alerts in order to trigger actions. If you text someone via Messages, switch to Safari, lock the phone, and then receive a reply a few seconds later, unlocking via Touch ID will take you to Safari, not Messages. The same problem applies to any alert from an app that wasn’t the one you most recently used. The workaround is to slide across the lock screen alert to get to the passcode screen and then authenticate with Touch ID, but that’s an annoying extra step for people used to a passcode timeout, an unfortunate regression in usability for an action that people have done many times daily for years.
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