Getting jealous, Android users?
We're speaking, of course, about the fingerprint-scanning security measures (Touch ID) found within the home button of Apple's iPhone 5S. It's a nifty little feature – though not, arguably, foolproof – that at least grants an authorised user quick access to his or her device without having to type in a pesky PIN.
According to a new report from USA Today, those rocking Google's mobile operating system might not have that much longer to wait before they start getting fingerprint sensors of their own on their mobile devices.
In fact, they'll probably be able to get their hands on them shortly after the new year. At least, that's according to the projections from representatives of the FIDO Alliance — an organisation, founded in 2012, that's tasked itself with the mission of improving authentication on devices and solving "the problems users face with creating and remembering multiple usernames and passwords."
According to FIDO president Michael Barrett, the organisation's 48 or so member companies are all working to come up with biometric solutions for Android, and it's hopeful that the market will start to see the fruits of their labours within approximately six months or so.
"The intention of FIDO is absolutely that it will allow consumers to have access to mobile services that they can use with very low friction, while keeping good security," said Barrett, in an interview with USA Today. "That's explicitly what we want to build."
And here's where the fun world of competing standards comes into play. Namely, that the current touch-based identification system you're likely familiar with – Touch ID — is itself not compatible with the FIDO solution that the aforementioned organisation is pursuing. While it's likely that Apple could make Touch ID "FIDO-compliant," that solution is likely a few years out, at best.
The open standard that the FIDO Alliance is pushing for could be used by a variety of companies looking to empower their users with quick and easy authentication into their services. However, there's just nothing FIDO-related that can be shown off just yet. Although heavyweights like Google have signed on board as companies eager to push for this simplified, yet relatively secure authentication, there's still no actual product or service featuring FIDO-based technology that's ready for prime time.
It's a bummer, given some of the ideas that the Alliance – or its members – have touted as possible avenues for authentication. For example, when Google officially joined the alliance, the company was starting to bring up the possibility of using devices like USB-based security tokens to help a user verify who he or she is.
And, our favourite, throwing out the idea of rings that users could wear to authenticate them into their mobile devices or web services. Blingin'.