Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) vaunted Touch ID fingerprint sensor is about to get a software makeover. According to an unnamed insider source cited by Apple Insider, Apple will soon release a software update that will improve the fingerprint recognition abilities of the iPhone 5S Touch ID. Although the biometric authentication system was widely praised by tech reviewers when the company released the iPhone 5S last year, some users have reported that the fingerprint sensor’s ability to recognize a registered fingerprint gets progressively worse after several weeks of use, reports Apple Insider.
Users can work around the so-called “AuthenTec Fade” issue by reenrolling their fingerprint in the Touch ID system. However, Apple Insider reports that the fingerprint recognition problem tends to return after several more weeks of use. Apple acquired fingerprint sensor technology company AuthenTec in 2012 in order to create the Touch ID fingerprint scanner and it has also developed the software update with the original creators, per Apple Insider’s source.
Although Apple is expected to release iOS 7.1 next month, the source was unable to confirm if the Touch ID update would be included with the next iOS upgrade. In the meantime, Apple users have suggested registering the same fingerprint as multiple separate digits. Per Apple Insider, some forum users have reported that this enhances the Touch ID system’s ability to recognize a fingerprint over a longer period of time. According to Apple’s Touch ID support page, users can enroll up to five separate fingerprints in the system. However, the company also noted that “With each additional finger that you enroll, it may take slightly longer for Touch ID to recognize your finger when you use it.”
Apple recently released an iOS security white paper that detailed how the iPhone 5S protects users’ fingerprint images by encrypting the data and storing it in a separate “secure enclave” on the A7 chip. In the document, Apple noted that “With one finger enrolled, the chance of a random match with someone else is 1 in 50,000.”
The impact of Apple’s Touch ID system on the smartphone market recently became apparent when Samsung (SSNLF.PK) unveiled its new Galaxy S5 flagship smartphone. Like the iPhone 5S, the Galaxy S5 features a fingerprint sensor embedded in the home button. However, Samsung’s fingerprint scanner requires the user to swipe their finger over the sensor, rather than press down. According to reviewers at The Verge, Samsung’s version of the fingerprint scanner is not as user-friendly as Apple’s Touch ID. Per The Verge’s reviewers, Samsung’s fingerprint sensor was “very particular” about the type of motion that a user employed to successfully activate the scanner.
More from Wall St. Cheat Sheet:
- Munster: New Apple Products Could Have ‘Big Impact’ on Price Multiple
- Here’s How Apple Protects Touch ID Fingerprint Data
- Apple Patent Outlines Intelligent, Gesture-Based User Interface
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