Dactyl is an Android app that wants to make the fingerprint sensor installed on many Android smartphones that little bit more useful by allowing users to take a picture using their unique fingerprint. It's a novel idea, and one that supports many popular camera apps – including Google's own Camera app – with more of them being added all of the time. The developer is even working on a solution to allow Dactyl to work with any and every camera app. It's a simple app that's easy to understand and easy to get setup and running, it just stays in the background and makes sure that people can take a photo as quickly and as easily as they can. Improving all of the time, the Dactyl developer is happy to field requests for camera apps that might be missing, and right now it supports the majority of camera apps out there, so let's take a sharper look, shall we?
First of all, users that have a fingerprint sensor are some of the only users that can use this app, so if you're device doesn't have a fingerprint sensor, then this is not for you. With that said, users can download Dactyl – Fingerprint Camera from the Play Store. It's not a free app, but it doesn't come with any ads or in-app purchases and is constantly being improved with support for more apps.
When first launched, Dactyl gives new users a good "look around" so to speak thanks to its simple, attractive and informative splash screen pages. These do a great job of explaining what Dactyl is and how it can be used.
Users will need to enable Dactyl inside of their accessibility settings, which depending on their model of phone, might look a little different.
Here, on my Galaxy S7 Edge, I had to scroll down to find a neat entry on its own for Dactyl, and enabling it was as simple as flicking a switch, which is nice to see in such an app.
Due to the nature of security within Android these days, it's not entirely possible for Dactyl to support every single camera app out there, but the developer does their best. While the developer is working on a solution to allow all camera apps to work with Dactyl, this isn't quite ready yet. However, they do make it nice and easy to see which apps are supported with a neat little list of apps. Those apps with the Play Store icon next to them denote apps you don't have installed, but a simple tap will take you to the Play Store listing and let you install them.
Sadly, the default camera app on my Galaxy S7 Edge – which I quite like – wasn't supported by Dactyl, so I had to install the Google Camera instead. In the future though, this might no longer be the case.
This was something of an inconvenience, sure, but if we look on the bright side, Dactyl becomes not only an app that offers another use for the fingerprint scanner, but also a way of discovering new apps and such. When you're using an app that is supported by Dactyl, you can load it up and go ahead and take pictures by using your finger or thumb, or whatever you want. There will often be a notification to let you know the app is working away in the background.
This notification, as well as other options, can be changed in the Settings page, which is super-simple and easily-understood.
For the most part, I can see what Dactyl is trying to do, but it's one of those apps that won't please everyone. For a lot of devices with the fingerprint sensor on the front of the phone, this is nice and easy to use, sure, but what about those with the scanners on the back? For some users, with devices like the Nexus phones, using the rear-facing fingerprint scanner might not be ideal, but it is perfect for taking selfies quickly and easily. One thing to note however, is that Dactyl doesn't actually need a fingerprint, it simply triggers the camera shutter by registering that a touch has been made. Regardless of whether or not your fingerprint has been registered. While it won't be for everyone, for every person that doesn't take to such an app there will be someone that does "click" with the way Dactyl wants to do things. being able to take a picture with your fingerprint is great, and it's another use for a piece of hardware that isn't exactly feature rich on Android right now. It all comes down to how you like to do things however, and Dactyl adds one more flexible choice to how users can use Android exactly as they want to.
- Speed (4/5) – Dactyl runs quickly and doesn't slow down your device at all, and the fingerprint sensor might be a quicker way of taking a photo for a lot of people.
- Theme (4/5) – An app like this isn't designed to be used too often, as its service runs in the background, but nonetheless the main app is a looker and blends in nicely with the rest of Android.
- Features (4/5) – It's a great concept, and it does seems to work quite well in a lot of the more popular camera apps out there – including Google's own – but ultimately, whether or not using the fingerprint scanner is quicker or easier will be down to the user in question.
- Overall (4/5) – It's a great concept and a great idea, and it works well, Dactyl is one of the few apps that actually makes the fingerprint sensor on Android a little more useful.
- Gives Android users yet another choice of using their device however the hell they want to.
- Makes the fingerprint sensor a little more useful in the long run, rather than another add-on feature.
- Also helps users discover new camera apps that they might not have ever found on their own.
- Service runs in the background, allowing users to simply go ahead and use their camera app just as they always have done.
- Depending on the placement of the fingerprint sensor, it might be less convenient than some might think.
- Until the workaround is complete, some users might not be able to use their built-in camera app.
All-in-all, Dactyl is a neat little app that does fulfill its promise, but depending on how you use your camera, or where your fingerprint sensor is on your device, this is the sort of thing that might not end up being more convenient than otherwise. Even so, there's a lot on offer here, and it's another great use for the fingerprint sensor, which is something that not a lot of apps really make that much use of these days.