Samsung’s Pass API opens up Galaxy S5’s fingerprint sensor to developers

Cries of ‘copycat!’ rang out when it was initially reported that the Galaxy S5 might contain a fingerprint sensor, but following the official announcement this week at MWC, it’s clear that Samsung is attempting to differentiate from the iPhone 5s. At a developer-focused MWC event, the company told developers that their apps will have access to the fingerprint sensor.

Released this week, Samsung Mobile SDK 1.5 beta 1 contains a new Pass API, allowing developers to use the Galaxy S5’s fingerprint recognition features in their applications. Developers will be able to use the Pass API to request fingerprint recognition, cancel those requests, register fingerprints, and verify fingerprints against those registered to the S5.

The access allows developers new leeway in two-step authentication, and secure payment processing (Samsung has a deal in place with PayPal already), something they currently don’t have on iOS. While Apple has incorporated such features into the App Store, it has not made any APIs available to developers and it remains to be seen if it will – the company went to great lengths to promote the security of Touch ID during the iPhone 5s launch, and any 3rd party access opens the door misuse. Samsung could see significant benefit from fostering a development community eager to develop killer fingerprint sensor-enabled apps, but it’s also opening up its customer base to significant risk.