Smartphone security is one of those things; it’s necessary, because there’s so much personal information kept on our phones these days, but it’s a bugbear, because we unlock our phones so frequently that typing in PINs or patterns frequently is a pain in the neck.
To make this a little easier, Samsung incorporated a fingerprint scanner in the Galaxy S5 (and other devices since) but it was far from perfect. While the software side was good — you could use the fingerprint scanner to unlock the device, and more — the hardware side lacked a little; unlike the widely respected fingerprint sensor which Apple uses in the iPhone range, Samsung went with a swipe sensor, which wasn’t particularly well designed, or reliable to activate.
Building it in to the home button was a good idea (it’s what people kind of expected) but unlike the large surface area on Apple’s home button, Samsung’s doesn’t share it, so a touch sensor wasn’t viable at the time. It’s a shame, because the fingerprint sensor on Samsung’s Galaxy S5 (and later devices that have used it) hasn’t been held in high regard.
For those looking forward to the next Galaxy phone, some good news! SamMobile is reporting that Samsung is ditching the swipe sensor for a touch sensor instead, and it will work largely the same as the iPhone fingerprint sensor; you can enrol the entire fingerprint, and so placement (and swiping) isn’t so fussy, meaning you’re more likely to get an unlock first time, instead of needing four or five tries.
To make this work, Samsung has reportedly increased the size of the home button on the Galaxy S6. This means that you can place the registered fingerprint on the home button, at any angle, and securely unlock your device.
There’s no word about new software features, but the existing features are still pretty damned cool:
- Fingerprint unlock – unlock the phone from the lockscreen
- Sign in to websites using fingerprints
- Verify Samsung Account, useful when purchasing content in Samsung apps and services
- Private mode (which can be activated by fingerprints)
- Pay with PayPal, using a fingerprint instead of a password to authorise
This is what we know. Now we wait six weeks or so until MWC 2015 (hopefully) to find out what’s going to happen! I’m probably more excited about the Galaxy S6 than I have been about any of Samsung’s previous Galaxy flagships.