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November 13, 2015

Thumbprint Security

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

For a while now, I’ve been using thumbprint security on my Android phone. Specifically, it’s my Samsung Galaxy S6. While thumbprint security is an option for Android Marshmallow, my Nexus 5 phone (which was recently updated to Marshmallow) lacks a thumbprint reader. The Galaxy S6 features a thumbprint reader right on the Home button. So I thought that I’d try it out.

Categorically, your thumbprint is considered a high form of security, along with a PIN or Password. It’s not silly security, such as a pattern lock or the face unlock, which has apparently vanished from newer versions of Android.

To set up thumbprint security, which is really called fingerprint security but everyone I know uses their thumb, you go to the Screen Lock settings as choose that option. (Details are provided in my Android Phones For Dummies books.)

I had to swipe my thumb over the Galaxy S6’s Home button about 20 times to get it read properly. I’m not sure whether the thumbprint reader is weak or I just didn’t know which part of the Home button I needed to swipe or how to hold my thumb. Eventually it worked.

As a backup you assign a password, which must contain letters and numbers. The phone gives you about five tries to swipe your thumb and get it correct before you need to type the backup password. That’s happened to me maybe half a dozen times in the past few weeks I’ve been using thumbprint ID.

The key to thing is to properly swipe your thumb. You don’t want to press too hard and you don’t want to swipe too quickly. Also, you can’t swipe your thumb when you’re using that hand: Unlike a PIN or Password, which you can type ambidextrously, you must use the specific digit you registered with the phone to unlock it.

You can jump right to the backup password if you get frustrated. Or, as with all Android phones, you can make an emergency call without having to unlock. So if I suffer from a tragic bolt cutter accident, I can still phone up the EMTs.

The newer Nexus phones, which use Android Marshmallow, have a thumbprint ID gizmo on the back of the phone, right below the rear camera. That’s probably a better location for the reader, which would allow you to use your index finger and keep your thumb free. I’d have to try the phone out and see how well it works.

Overall, I’m pleased with thumbprint ID. I’d like to see more biometric security features in the future, which are not only secure but convenient.

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