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The screenshots show a fingerprint scanner with the file name FingerprintService.apk. (The screenshots also point to a 2K screen, but that is another story).
Oh, and Samsung is studying iris technology as well, an executive told Bloomberg earlier this month but given the now expected launch date of March or April, eye recognition probably won’t be part of the mix. ”We are studying the possibility but can’t really say whether we will have it or not on the S5,” Lee Young Hee, executive vice president of the company’s mobile business told Bloomberg.
So it is settled. Mobile phones’ next big thing, or one of their next big things, will include support for biometric technology, a trend popularized by the iPhone 5S touch ID fingerprint scanner, introduced in Apple's latest product launch. There are other examples as well, such as the newly-released HTC One Max phone, which has a fingerprint identification sensor, but as a review in Mashable says, “it disappoints.”
No matter. Fingerprint sensors may have once, for a fleeting moment, seemed to be a novel feature designed for buzz and of course, device upgrades. But as more smartphone manufacturers add the feature it is beginning to look possible, even likely, that biometric-based authentication for mobile devices will go mainstream.
The interest is certainly there from the corporate world, says John Zurawski, VP of Authentify, a provider of telephone-based two-factor, three-factor out-of-band authentication that counts among its clients five of the world’s top ten banks, three of the five largest ecommerce providers and two of the top four insurance companies in North America.
“Authentify gets a great deal of interest in our biometrics,” he tells me. “There seems to be a lot of comfort knowing the capability exists, but considerably fewer of our customers actually utilize it.”
That could well change as consumers upgrade to biometric-enabled devices en mass.
Some scenarios to consider:
BYOD gets a whole lot less scary for companies. Corporate data, even sensitive data, is increasingly being accessed via a mobile device that is sometimes provided by the company but increasingly via a device that is owned by the employee. A password-protected smartphone which may or may not even be activated.
Banking and financial account access gets much less irritating. We all know the story about password protection–they are guessed or figured out via Facebook or stolen, or worst of all, forgotten just when you, the real and legitimate account holder, need it the most. And those security questions? Allow me to digress into a rant about how frustrating those are. Who was your best friend in high school is a popular choice. Well guess what! I had more than one and they cycled in status–best friend, second best friend, the girl I was best friends with but who then found someone else to be her best friend–throughout the year. I pick one name to give the bank but will I remember who it was when I am asked six months later? Most assuredly not.
For better or worse, consumers get more comfortable with facial recognition technology. For that will surely join the fingerprint and voice recognition on the menu. In fact, it already has.
Even if these admittedly idealistic scenarios don’t all come to pass, at the bare minimum this technology could lead to people practicing safer habits with their devices.
Joe Schumacher, security consultant at Neohapsis, doesn’t see fingerprint readers replacing passwords, calling Apple’s TouchID “ultimately a sales tactic more than a security breakthrough.” But there’s this he adds: “it may result in more people locking their phones as unlocking is easier with the fingerprint reader.”