The Samsung Galaxy S5 Fingerprint Scanner Will be Accessible by Developers


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For a few specific technological advancements, it's a fine tight-rope that electronics OEMs have to walk sometimes. Do you focus your advancement and development on speedier innovation or err on the side of increased security? For example, with the Apple iPhone 5S' fingerprint scanner, Apple chose to focus more on security. Because of this, the abilities of the device are a bit more limited and improvements to the functionality moves much more slowly. Obviously the tradeoff is valuable to them. Apple gets to control the security with tighter reigns, insuring that it is harder for the bad guys to find and take advantage of any security flaws. Of course, this also puts more pressure on them to solve all of the security issues while developing additional functionality, so therein lies the double-edged sword.

Conversely, Samsung has chosen to go the other way with the fingerprint scanner on their new Galaxy S5. Reportedly, Samsung will be opening up their fingerprint ID scanner to third party developers. This should create a break-neck pace of innovation for interesting features and apps which can take advantage of the technology. Here's a quote with a few more details,

For devs, however, this is a key opportunity that they’ve likely been thinking about since at least Apple’s iPhone 5s announcement. Any new sensor is grounds for exploring new software opportunities and app design paradigms, but access to such a user-specific identifier has big implications for hot areas like mobile payments, authentication and consumer behavior tracking. Samsung’s documentation for the new Pass API (which uses the fingerprint sensor) says that developers can do all of the following, which makes it sound like the intended purpose is indeed for proof of identity:

  • Request fingerprint recognition
  • Cancel fingerprint recognition requests
  • Verify whether the fingerprint of the current user matches the fingerprint registered on the device
  • Register fingerprints through the Enroll screen
Other new API’s made available by Samsung in its Galaxy S5 SDK allow for access of remote sensors (like those found in the Gear 2 and Gear Fit), S Health access, accessory device connections and file transfers between those devices, motion and activity information sharing, and more. The fingerprint API could be the most influential of all of the above, however, and the one with the most far-reaching implications for consumers and developers.

Both approaches have merit, and you really can't argue that one is always better than the other. For now, we should theoretically see more apps, functions and features develop more quickly for the Galaxy S5 than on the iPhone 5S. Of course, the trade-off is that there will likely be more security breaches. If Samsung can work out all of these issues quickly as they arise, it might be a gamble worth playing in the long run.

Source: TechCrunch