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Could the iPhone 8 pack a secret thief-catching feature?

Ever tried to steal an iPhone? Good, us neither. But for those that are planning on giving it a try in the future, you might want to rethink.

A patent published by the US Patent and Trademark Office suggests Apple is considering adding a new safety feature to future iPhones that could see biometric information and photos of would-be thieves stored to strengthen security.

The patent is entitled ‘Biometric capture for unauthorized user identification’ and contains information on technology that would allow an iPhone or iPad’s Touch ID module, camera, and other sensors to retain information on any unauthorised user trying to gain access to the device.

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Touch ID

We’re not sure whether this is wholly legal, especially if the stored data is then sent to a remote server for further evaluation.

Apple says server-side systems could potentially cross-reference fingerprint data and photos with an online database of known users.

At best, this seems like a legal grey area, which leads us to believe we might not see the feature added to a consumer product any time soon, although we’re intrigued to see whether a modified version makes it to the iPhone 8.

For now, the patent details how a device could capture a photo and fingerprint after one failed access attempt, or, more interestingly, how the function could use machine learning to determine when to capture biometric information.

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iPhone 8Could the security feature make in onto the iPhone 8?

What’s more, the security feature could use extra information, such as device location, audio data, and time stamps to back up the biometric data.

It could also make a note of the unauthorised user’s keystrokes to try to determine what the person was trying to do when using the phone.

As it stands, users have five attempts to unlock their iPhone with Touch ID, after which they will be required to enter a passcode.

Apple’s patent application was submitted in April, and as with all patents, there’s absolutely no guarantee the feature itself will ever make it to a consumer product.

But we’re intrigued to see where this one leads, if only for the debate over privacy issues it will no doubt reignite.

WATCH: iPhone 7: Everything we know so far

What do you think of Apple’s idea? Let us know in the comments.

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