The Samsung Galaxy S5 debuted at Mobile World Congress this week and one of its key new features is a home button fingerprint scanner similar to that of the iPhone 5s.
But Samsung's fingerprint scanner differs from Apple's in one key area: Third-party developer access. As TechCrunch's Darrell Etherington reports, Samsung announced developer access today. "(This) move is in stark contrast to Apple’s strategy with its own fingerprint sensor tech, which is specifically off-limits to third-party devs."
Dev access to the fingerprint scanner is a major bonus for Android developers and would-be S5 users.
This appears to be a major bonus for Android developers and S5 users in that the fingerprint scanner could introduce new shortcuts and uses within apps, as well as for making purchases.
I see developers adding this as a two-step authentication, versus replacing traditional usernames and passwords. On the other hand, for things like banking applications, I don’t see them replacing traditional login systems for the sake of liability.
Privacy, of course, is concern number-one when it comes to secure access technology like this. I think keeping the fingerprint data on the device itself is important, so from what I see, all the developers get access to is whether or not the current fingerprint matches the fingerprint registered to the device. This isn’t any different than what Apple has.
Apple hasn't missed the boat on this; rather, it made the right decision to keep fingerprint data on the phone (and not on servers).
That's not to say Apple missed an opportunity to open up its fingerprint scanner to developers. Fingerprint access for mobile is in its infancy and I think Apple made the right decision keeping fingerprint access data on the phone as opposed to Apple servers. I imagine this will be the case with Samsung as well, although now we’ll be able to "confirm" or "deny" user access based on a fingerprint match.
I think Samsung is definitely heading in the right direction, but this difference in developer access won't be enough to convert long-time apple fans. That said, with the movement towards security, this is most definitely a selling feature.