Our guide to the future of the iPhone continues. Our next topic of discussion is:

Security & privacy

Apple has come out strongly in favour of user privacy, as was demonstrated in its recent tussle with the FBI. But what technological developments can it offer to back this up?

Here's where we see the iPhone security features could head in the next few years.

An iPhone that can capture thieves' fingerprints

US patent 20160248769, a patent that Apple applied for in April 2016 and was published on 25 August of the same year, suggests that the company is considering the introduction of a security feature that would capture biometric data, such as fingerprints, audio, photos or video footage, from anyone who tries to steal your iPhone.

The patent, headed Biometric capture for unauthorised user identification, describes how a device "may determine to capture biometric information in response to the occurrence of one or more trigger conditions", these conditions potentially including "detection of potential unauthorised use". It goes on to specify that this will be achieved "without making said unauthorised user aware of said capture".

To assist in identifying and tracking down the thief, this data is ("in various implementations") transmitted to the company's servers.

It all sounds quite appealing - most of us have enjoyed the tale of a thief getting caught out when they take an unwitting selfie on a laptop's webcam or similar - but some might question whether hackers, advertisers or law enforcement might like to put this function to more sinister use, capturing our own biometric data and using it against us. In situations like this, Apple's strong track record of protecting its users privacy is a great reassurance; although the iCloud photo leaks were only a couple of years ago…

Attack detection mode

In March 2014, USPTO published an Apple patent filing that could be used to protect iPhone owners when they're in distress.

The patent, titled "Mobile emergency attack and failsafe detection", describes a feature that combines software and hardware to create an emergency services request system that's build in to a smartphone such as the iPhone.

Using the iPhone's sensors, the software could detect when the user is in an emergency situation such as a physical attack or car crash and automatically call for help. Users can set a predefined set of contact numbers, or use the iPhone's automatic service to call local 999 numbers. It can also make use of the GPS to detect the location of the user and call the contact that's closest.

To avoid an abundance of 999 calls being placed unnecessarily, the service has a number of modes and measures in place, such as audible warnings that a call is about to be made.

Next: Specs, and other new technologies that could be coming to iPhone