Until recently, biometric security features were restricted to Government agencies and a select group of manufacturers, such as HP, who installed the hardware onto their devices (typically laptops). However, in the last two years the marketing efforts from Apple and later Samsung have helped popularize the idea of using your fingerprint(s) to unlock first your smartphone and tablet and then to access or authorize various features, such as the application store. Following in Apple and Samsung’s lead, we are seeing an increasing number of device manufacturers incorporating biometric sensors into smartphones – typically fingerprint sensors – to make life easier for customers during the day to day use of their devices. And one of the more persistent rumors is that the new Nexus devices are set to include a fingerprint scanner plus the relevant code support within Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
We have already seen renders of the new Nexus smartphone devices, as the rumors point to there being two, one built by LG as the Nexus 5 (2015 Edition) and the other by Huawei, which is reputed to have a larger screen. Both devices appear to have a fingerprint sensor on the back of the chassis. Today, I am writing about another big clue in that third party application developers are building fingerprint support into applications. We’ve news today that the Bank of America is adding fingerprint support for signing into the application. This update is combined with a number of other feature polishes, including making it easier to set up specialist appointments using the application, and the way of depositing checks has been improved as the digital check image now appears on the screen as soon as the deposit has been made. In order to incorporate the fingerprint scanner, the application’s home screen has been redesigned – and the new version of the application is available on the Google Play Store.
There’s a growing sense of expectation and excitement about the Nexus news; we don’t know when it will be and whilst we’ve seen rumours and renders of two possible new smartphone devices carrying fingerprint sensors, we won’t know for certain what Google are planning on releasing until the news is out. It will be interesting to see how Google have tackled the potential security issues surrounding using a customer’s fingerprint to unlock a device or access sensitive account data – such as privacy, as we need to trust the manufacturer or software developer not to abuse our fingerprint information. The second is that we need to make sure we have a robust way of recovering passwords, which currently means a secure email account likely accessed with a password. This is because if a would-be hacker is able to gain access to this email, he or she could either gain access to our biometric data and either steal it or compromise it. It would not be an easy problem to unravel if our devices failed to recognize our fingerprint.