Apple’s Touch ID: I Want It Everywhere

As I check my iPhone from time to time during the day, I’m occasionally reminded of how efficient Touch ID is. Instead of typing a passcode, my fingerprint unlocks my phone. Granted, the passcode is only four digits, but with Touch ID, I’ve set my phone to lock immediately, instead of having the security risk of leaving a few minutes before it locks. If I lose the phone, there’s no longer a several minute window for someone to access it.

I notice Touch ID more when I use my iPad, because that device does require a passcode. I use the iPad much less, though, and it’s less of a bother. And I can’t forget my Macs; I have them set to lock and request a password when my screen saver goes on, after just a few minutes of idle time. That actually bothers me more than the iPad, since I have to type my password on a keyboard.

So I hope that Apple will expand Touch ID: first to third-party developers of iOS apps, then to the iPad and iPod touch, then, hopefully, to the Mac. It would be great with the iOS apps I use which are password- or passcode-protected: the two I use most are 1Password and Dropbox, though there are others that occasionally ask for a password. I’d like to be able to get access to my passwords on 1Password with a touch, instead of entering my (admittedly strong) password, as it’s just annoying, now that I know there’s a better way.

I also hope Apple brings Touch ID to the Mac. I can imagine a Magic Mouse and/or Magic Trackpad with a section to use with Touch ID. It would need a special sensor, the same kind that’s on the iPhone, so it most likely could not work with the entire touch surface. But looking at my Magic Trackpad, I can see that if it were in a corner, it would be usable, and not get in the way. (The same would be the case on a laptop.)

As Apple often brings out a new technology first on the iPhone, then moves it to other iOS devices, or on the MacBook Air, before bringing it to other Macs, it’s obvious that they’re planning on rolling out this technology at least to the iPad in the future. Hopefully this will coincide with an SDK for third-party apps, and perhaps availability on the Mac as well. Touch ID is one of Apple’s technologies that saves a lot of time, and makes life easier. I want it on all my devices.

Update: Shawn King, of Your Mac Life, suggested on Twitter that one might use an iPhone to unlock a Mac. There could be some sort of “remote” app on the iPhone, which would let you then unlock your Mac. This might take longer, though, because you’d need to unlock the iPhone, launch the app, then unlock the Mac. But it would mean that the Touch ID would be able to interface with other hardware.

Quickly Make iPhone Ringtones with Fission

There are two ways to choose a ringtone for your phone. You can either choose one of the default ringtones available, or you can get personal, and choose something musical (or not) that expresses your personality. If you go the latter route, you can buy ringtones, and the iTunes Store is happy to sell you one.

But you may want to make your own ringtones using music you have. Using music from CDs that I’ve ripped, I’ve made several ringtones. One is for standard calls, and the other is for calls from friends or family, and I’ve got another for Messages.

There are many ways to do this, but I’m going to show you one using an app that I like called Fission. This $32 app is a great audio editor, which is fast and easy to use, and which doesn’t convert your audio files. If you want to edit an AAC or MP3 file, you’ll work with that file, and not have to convert it to and from a different format. You can also use it to edit FLAC and Apple Lossless files, or even convert among different file formats. This is called non-destructive editing.

Much of what I use Fission for is to split, edit and trim files, but it’s great for creating ringtones, and can even add them directly to your iTunes library. Here’s how it works.

First, find a song or other audio file you want to use for your ringtone. Make a copy of it first, so you don’t edit the original. If you want to use a song in your iTunes library, right-click it and choose Show in Finder or Show in Windows Explorer.

Launch Fisson, then drag the file onto its window. You’ll see the file’s waveform.

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Next, find the section of the music you want to use as a ringtone (you may want to use Fission’s zoom slider at the bottom left of the window to find the precise spot where you want this to begin or end). Ringtones can only be up to 40 seconds long, so make sure to choose something no longer than that.

When you’ve found the part you want to use, you can trim the song with Fission. Click at the beginning of the section you want to use then drag to the leftmost end of the window. The selection will take on a white background.

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Press the delete key to delete the highlighted section.

Go to the end of the bit you want as your ringtone, click, then drag to the right end of the window. Press the delete key. You’ll now have a 40-second or shorter bit of music. Play it in Fission to make sure it starts and ends correctly.

Next, choose File > Save as iPhone Ringtone. Fission will process the music, change its file type, and add it to your iTunes library. You’ll find it in the Tones library. (If you don’t see this, choose iTunes > Preferences, then check Tones in the Show section.) You can sync it to your iPhone, or even to other iOS devices to use as tones for alerts.

That’s all you need to do. You can make as many ringtones as you like, from just about any format music file. Feel free to try different ringtones and see which work best for you.