Nikhil SubramaniamFeb 24, 2014 11:13:41 IST
Samsung has been widely known to be testing fingerprint scanners and iris recognition for its next flagships, but until now there has not been any definitive word on it. All that changes as dedicated Samsung website SamMobile has had some playing time with the fingerprint scanner.
Firstly, it’s not going to be integrated in the touchscreen, as was previously speculated. However, Samsung has built the sensor into the Galaxy S5’s home button, which also means that there will be no on-screen navigation buttons on the next flagship.
Considering Samsung’s skirmishes with Apple, this could be dangerous territory as the iPhone 5s’s fingerprint scanner is also located in the home button. Unlike TouchID. Samsung’s sensor will work in swipe method, which means one would need to swipe the entire finger, from base to tip, across the home key to register input properly. The sensor is also said to be quite finicky. Firstly, your finger needs to be flat against the sensor and you will need to swipe at just the right speed or else it won’t recognise the input. It is also not very good with wet fingers either and reportedly snaps back asking you to dry them first.
Over the years, there have been many critics of the swipe-based fingerprint scanning method. For one, the method is extremely erratic as evidenced by SamMobile’s experience. However, it could be that Samsung has not yet finalised the software and the scanning algorithm. Secondly, critics say that such a scanner has greatly diminished shelf life thanks to the constant need to swipe. It ends up picking up a lot of wear and tear from the action, which is clear to anyone who has used one on their laptop. We are yet to see what exactly Samsung has done to counter this downside. Perhaps there’s some kind of protective material around the scanner, a la Apple’s sapphire crystal covering for the home button. SamMobile doesn’t mention any such layer for the button.
While Apple and HTC both have fingerprint scanners in recent phones, Samsung’s implementation is said to be more feature rich and has uses throughout the operating system, according to the report. “You can register a total of 8 fingerprints and assign each fingerprint a different task or use it as an app shortcut, but at least 1 fingerprint must be used to unlock the device,” says SamMobile. To add a bit of cool factor, the Galaxy S5 will show a real-time image of your fingerprint as it passes over the sensor.
Samsung is introducing a new feature called Personal Folder and Private Mode in the S5. Here you will be able to store away apps, widgets, and content that you don’t want anyone else to see. To access these, you would need to swipe the registered finger. Of course, the option to use a PIN or password-based security is also present. While Apple allows you to authenticate some purchases on the App Store and iTunes using fingerprint, Samsung has allowed use of fingerprint authentication in quite a few places. One could verify their Samsung account with a swipe, and you will also be able to login to websites using designated fingers.
SamMobile says, “A few other OEMs, like Apple and HTC, have already implemented fingerprint sensors into their devices but none of their mobile devices use the sensor to its full potential, or like how Samsung is using in its upcoming Samsung Galaxy S5.” The website refused to put up pictures of the fingerprint scanner and the UI to save some surprises for the Unpacked 5 event in Barcelona.
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