According to the US Patent and Trademark Office , Apple’s invention has the catchy title “Biometric capture for unauthorised user identification”.
It uses the iPhone or iPad’s Touch ID module, camera and other sensors to capture and store information about a potential thief.
Apple’s patent is governed by device triggers, to also collect unauthorised user data. A single failed authentication triggers the immediate capture of fingerprint data and a picture of the user, but the device might be configured to evaluate the factors that ultimately trigger biometric capture based on a set of defaults defined by internal security protocols or the user.
However, the patent application mentions machine learning as a potential solution for deciding when to capture biometric data and how to manage it.
Other data can be used to augment the biometric information such as time stamps, device location, speed, air pressure, audio data and more, all collected and logged as background operations.
The unauthorized user’s data is then either stored locally on the device or sent to a remote server for further evaluation.
Basically the idea is that once someone has stolen your iPhone, that phone will turn against them and grass up any personal information it can find to the cops.
The danger for the thief is that the data they use could be grassing them up for other crimes and get them into an ocean of hot water.