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How Apple IPhones Could Change Commerce

The new iPhone 5S, with fingerprint technology
The new iPhone 5S, with fingerprint technologyPhotograph by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Apple’s iPhone launch event on Tuesday was largely devoid of surprises, but the company’s new phones have several features that could significantly affect the way people shop online and in the physical world. Just not quite yet.

The most widely noted feature of the new phone was its fingerprint scanner. For now, the utility of the scanner is limited. It can be used only to allow users to bypass the need for a password when they want to unlock their phones or buy things from iTunes. This is kind of neat, and it could prove to be a modest benefit for Apple in the corporate market, in which users often have to enter long passwords to unlock their phones. At the moment, its most important distinction is that Samsung phones don’t have this feature (yet).