Fingerprint Scanners, Voice Unlock Coming to Your Smartphone?

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By William Peacock, Esq. on April 08, 2013 9:58 AM

Pick up your smartphone. Do you have a cloud storage app installed, such as DropBox, Google Drive, or SkyDrive? Does that cloud storage drive contain client files? What about the rest of your phone -- are there any sensitive client emails, records, or other data that could harm you, your client, or your business if your phone is accessed by someone with malicious intent?

Data security has always been a hot topic, but it has become especially important in the mobile realm now that professionals and consumers are adopting smartphones and tablets en masse. The more "connected" we become, the more vulnerable we become. (See our recent posts on bypassing Apple and Android lock screens for examples.)

Strengthening smartphone security using biometric devices might just be the next big innovation for manufacturers. Android phone manufacturers, such as Samsung, have recently added facial recognition unlocking. Unfortunately, at least with my Nexus 4, it's utterly incompetent. I find myself waiting for it to fail at recognizing me before entering a pattern unlock about 90% of the time.

Still, once the kinks are worked out, it's more promising than a crackable four-digit passcode.

Facial recognition seems to be Android's path, but what about Apple and iOS?

According to the Telegraph, Apple could be adding fingerprint recognition to the circular Home button on their phones on either the iPhone 5s or the iPhone 6. It wouldn't be a massive surprise if this rumor turns out to be true -- Apple recently acquired a fingerprint-recognition company and filed a patent related to the technology. Plus, a few Android handsets, including the Motorola Atrix, have already included the feature.

Voice recognition is also a possibility -- though much like facial recognition, it could have ambience issues. Facial recognition doesn't work when your camera can't get a clear image, such as in the dark or when standing in exceptionally bright light. Voice recognition would likely fail anywhere with lots of noise, such as crowded coffee shops, bars, or at concerts.

Until facial, voice, or fingerprint recognition works reliably, we're going to be stuck with crackable keycodes or pattern recognition as a failsafe. That means our data still isn't completely secure. We'll rest easy once a keycode is not necessary, even as a backup. Full data encryption would also be nice.

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