The fingerprint scanner first appeared on the handheld device in 2011 with the Motorola Atrix, but gained little notice due to functional issues. The feature only became popular with the release of the iPhone 5s in 2013, when Apple improved the sensor and relocated it to the front of the screen for easier access.
But this is Samsung’s first foray into the highly debated world of the fingerprint sensor which, in theory, should ensure that the device can only be used by the owner. The sensor can be used to lock and unlock the device, verify the Samsung account, and for the first time, pay online using PayPal. But how does the fingerprint scanner work on the Samsung Galaxy S5?
Firstly, the fingerprint needs to be stored on the device. The fingerprint creates a mathematical representation, also known as a hash, which is stored on the device. Each inputted fingerprint creates a new hash which must match the stored print in order to unlock the device. Through the Fingerprint Manager, you swipe the fingertip downwards over the indicated area eight times to successfully store the print. The app also allows you to enter a password as a backup in case the fingerprint recognition is unsuccessful.
Perhaps the most ground-breaking feature of the S5 fingerprint sensor is the ability to purchase online using PayPal with the swipe of a finger. But how does paying through PayPal using the fingerprint scanner work on the Samsung Galaxy S5? The PayPal option is available through the Finger Scanner app, where you simply tap Install next to FIDO protocol. From there, you tap Link to connect the device to PayPal, then follow the on-screen instructions to sign into the PayPal website and register your fingerprints in the same way.
Using the Galaxy S5 Private Mode, you can even set certain photos, videos, documents or voice files to ensure that no one else can view them. Select Fingerprint through the phone’s Settings, and enable the feature. Once enabled, the private content can only be viewed by swiping your fingerprint and matching the saved hash successfully. If the feature is disabled, the private files are hidden and unable to be accessed.
You can register up to three fingerprints: that of the thumb, index finger and middle finger, unlike the iPhone which registers all five. In addition, the feature requires a downward swiping motion, and gives five attempts before you are asked to enter the password if the swipe was too slow, or not recognised.
Of course, understanding how the fingerprint scanner works on the Samsung Galaxy S5 is simple, and there are many advantages of the fingerprint sensor over other forms of user recognition such as a password or recognisable pattern. It can’t be forgotten, overheard or seen, and despite reports of the device being fooled with a wood glue mould, there is overall little risk of hacking. But as has always been the case with the fingerprint sensor, there are some functional issues with the S5 feature.
As might be expected, the scanner has problems recognising fingerprints with fingers that are damp or have lotion or any other moisture on them. This may cause problems, particularly in summer, with sweat and sunscreen causing a thin barrier which prevents the sensor from recognising the print. You should try to ensure your hands are clean and dry when using the device wherever possible.
There may also be problems with print recognition in terms of matching the exact placement and speed of the original swipe. It’s recommended to begin the swipe just above the Home button, and swipe straight downwards to the bottom without pressing the button.
Having said that, we’re big fans of the fingerprint scanner on the Samsung Galaxy S5 and are looking forward to seeing this technology develop further…