Bring on the fingerprint apps: Apple debuts TouchID API at WWDC 2014

Apple held its annual WWDC event yesterday, and during the keynote the company made a huge announcement regarding biometrics.

Along with the unveiling of iOS 8, the company also announced the debut of an API for the Touch ID senor. This means that third-party developers will soon be able to code apps that leverage the fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 5S (and likely any upcoming iterations of the phone, too).

This is big news, because up to now, the fingerprint sensor embedded in Apple’s flagship smartphone could only be used to unlock the phone or authorize purchases in iTunes.

Apple beat Samsung in the race to embed a sensor, but while access was limited to the TouchID, a slew of cool third-party apps using biometrics had been showing up in the Google Play store for Samsung’s Galaxy S5.

So in the ‘third-party apps developed using fingerprint biometrics’ category, Samsung’s been the obvious winner so far. Apple clearly has a good track record of attracting app developers, so it’s likely there are a lot of people that have been chomping at the bit to start developing apps using the sensor on the iPhone.

To be honest, I had a feeling Apple would eventually open up an API for the sensor, but I wasn’t sure it would happen so soon.  Third-party app performance could be a big deciding factor to see which company has a better treatment of the embedded fingerprint sensor. As of yet, it’s been a difficult fight to call.

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