New Samsung fingerprint scanners may be more like Apple Touch ID

Samsung has been including fingerprint scanners inside the home button on its high-end devices since the Galaxy S5 launched, but there’s been one major difference between the Samsung scanners and Apple’s Touch ID: On a Samsung phone, you’ve got to swipe your finger over the reader, as opposed to Apple’s implementation in which users simply place their finger on the home button.

Samsung is looking to upgrade its fingerprint sensor on the forthcoming Galaxy S6 — and presumably on other fingerprint-equipped handsets after that, according to new information from SamMobile. The new sensor is reportedly touch-based as opposed to swipe-based, so users will simply need to place their fingerprint on the home key.

samsung swipe anandtech

Samsung’s fingerprint technology will probably continue to center around a touch-based capacitive reader, the way Apple’s Touch ID does.

Of course, Samsung’s current home button may be a little too skinny to get a good look at your fingerprint. SamMobile cites sources who believe Samsung will make its home button slightly bigger to accommodate the new sensor.

I’ve used Samsung’s fingerprint scanner on devices like the Galaxy Note 4. Personally, I’ve found the current implementation to be more trouble than it’s worth. In addition to understandable (and common) fingerprint reading failures, there’s an ergonomics issue: When holding a big device in your right hand, Samsung’s current fingerprint scanner simply isn’t great at reading your thumbprint at a horizontal angle. It worked more reliably with my index finger, but that requires two hands to hold the device.

A more reliable fingerprint scanner won’t just make [company]Samsung[/company] smartphones more secure; it could do a lot for Samsung’s mobile payment ambitions. A key part of Apple Pay’s success is that Touch ID biometric authentication is reliable and quick, so you’re not standing at a cash register trying to get your iPhone to recognize your finger.

Samsung is developing mobile payment software with Paypal and biometric verification firm Synaptics. A mobile payment system based around an effective fingerprint reader is much more likely to be successful than the rumored LoopPay case that would emulate soon-to-be-obsolete magnetic credit card swipes.

Fingerprints can be reproduced from publicly available photos

At a conference in Hamberg Germany this weekend, biometrics researcher Jan Krisller demonstrated how he spoofed a politician’s fingerprint using photos taken by a “standard photo camera.”

Krissler speculated that politicians might even want to “wear gloves when talking in public.”

The Chaos Computer Club, which put on the conference, and Krissler, who goes by Starbug, have demonstrated their ability to breach fingerprint sensors in the past. Shortly after the first Touch ID-equipped iPhone came out, the Chaos Computer Club was the first group to demonstrate that it is possible to beat Touch ID by creating a fake latex finger from a fingerprint left on glass or a smartphone screen.

Krissler claims he isolated German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen’s fingerprint from high-resolution photos taken during a public appearance in October using commercially available software called VeriFinger.

Although there are some advantages to a biometric access over traditional passwords — you can’t lose your fingerprint, and it can’t be phished — as the technology goes mainstream, it’s raising its own security issues. In addition to the spoofing problem, there’s a debate in the United States whether a law enforcement officer can compel you to unlock your device with your finger.

Most iOS devices now come with Touch ID, [company]Apple[/company]’s fingerprint security hardware. A recent Apple patent shows a way to beef up fingerprint reader security by adding a swipe motion.

Fingerprint readers aren’t standard on Android phones, but several devices already have them installed, and source code indicates that [company]Google[/company] has been working to add system-wide fingerprint scanning support.

Now you can buy stuff from Amazon on your iPhone using Touch ID

The latest update to the Amazon app on iOS includes TouchID support for logging in to your Amazon account. Other apps, like Mint and 1Password, also gained Touch ID support on Wednesday, but Amazon’s commerce-focused app most closely fulfills the promise of biometric payments many imagined when Apple first introduced its secure fingerprint scanner. Just don’t go overboard, or iOS 8 could end up being a very expensive free download.