The iPhone 7 is expected to be out this fall, which means next year’s model should be the iPhone 7s, and whenever there’s an S model upgrade, Apple usually upgrades the components more than the exterior design. Now a new patent hints at something interesting the tech giant could be working on for inclusion in a future iPhone model, whether the 7s or a later version.

iPhone 7s May Feature Voice Recognition

Patent reveals voice recognition unlocking

Forbes contributor Ewan Spence calls our attention to a patent filed by Apple and recently released by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The patent describes a technology that utilizes voice recognition software to identify an iPhone user and unlock some or all of their device. The patent was submitted about five years ago, and basically it sounds like the technology will make the user-friendly interface for a device’s authentication process even easier to use.

According to the patent, the technology would authenticate a user’s voice while processing a voice command, which means that no separate step to authenticate the user’s identity would be needed. In other words, they could give a voice command and not have to enter a PIN code or password or scan their fingerprint in order for the command to be completed. All of this would happen in a single step.

Uses for the iPhone 7s

Apple’s newer devices already allow users to give a command by starting with, “Hey, Siri” so they don’t have to use their hands. They simply enable certain functions to work without a PIN being required. With the technology described in the patent, however, users of the iPhone 7s or whatever model it lands in, if any, could simply give a command without even needing a PIN because the device would authenticate their identity using their voice.

Aside from unlocking the device, users could also give the command to open an app, like Apple Pay, and then their voice, while speaking the command, would be used to authenticate their identity, thus skipping a step.

Indeed, voice recognition would take authentication to the next level, just as using fingerprints has. However, it could be quite a few years before the technology is ready to be used in the iPhone, so even suggesting that it will make it into the iPhone 7s is a stretch, but who knows? Just the fact that there’s a patent for it means Apple is at least thinking about it, but some of the patents the tech giant files never end up being used.

Among the features we could see in the iPhone 7s is long-range charging. We’re also hearing that it might not have a physical home button and, in fact, the iPhone 7 might not even have one. However, this rumor has been around for years and hasn’t come to fruition yet.