Each year Samsung and Apple play a game of leap frog with iPhone and Galaxy smartphone features. One year Samsung will do this, but next year Apple will make it work. Fingerprint scanners are not new. Apple made them table stakes for premium phones. How long before Samsung copies Face ID?
Jump, Frog, Jump!
Samsung beat Apple to the face recognition party with technology that looked much better on a PowerPoint slide than it worked in real life. Whatever Samsung uses in Galaxy S9– which launched months after iPhone X– remains sufficiently anemic that it can be fooled by mere photos. Samsung’s version of 3-dimensional facial recognition might not make it to the Galaxy 9 Note in a few months, but everyone knows the leap frog game and how it works.
News on Korean streets says a company called Mantis Vision from Israel is working on 3-D sensors for the Galaxy S10, due about this time next year. For now, Galaxy S9 owners still have a Touch ID clone and an anemic iris scanner to keep the company in the PowerPoint features game.
What Apple did with Touch ID’s fingerprint sensor was not new. What Apple did differently than competitors was to make the technology work well, work consistently, and work in a very large number of devices. The company appears to have done the same with the 3-D sensors and cameras in iPhone X, and by this time next year we’re likely to see the facial recognition technology show up in iPads and Macs.
Meanwhile, Samsung struggles to find a 3-D sensor that works with available camera systems, which means the company will invent Face ID next year. Yes, Samsung claimed the 2-D approach was something you couldn’t find in an iPhone, but with good reason. Even Samsung wouldn’t allow the flawed 2-D recognition system to be used in payment applications where security is a requirement.
This leap frog game will not end anytime soon. Apple’s Touch ID worked far better than fingerprint scanners on other devices and it took competitors a couple of years to catch to Apple. Face ID will follow a similar path and the technology will improve as it rolls out to more customers in more devices.
Samsung’s marketing and promotional materials– TV commercials included– tout the Galaxy maker as first with this feature, or ahead of iPhone with that feature, but it’s Apple’s version in the leap frog game which moves the technology forward to encompass actual usability by a few hundred million customers.