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Wednesday, September 04, 2013, 07:20 am PT (10:20 am ET)

Leak: Samsung could beat Apple to the punch with fingerprint sensor in Note 3

Apple's biggest rival, Samsung, may be getting ready to unveil its own fingerprint sensing technology today with the Galaxy Note 3, potentially taking some of the wind out of the next iPhone's sails even before the device is introduced.



According to one application package file (APK) list posted by noted tech news leaker @evleaks, a "FingerprintService.apk" file is among the many files included in that list. Additionally, a "trusted insider" said to work within Samsung India's R&D department has reportedly confirmed to Temefy that the newest generation of the Note will come with a fingerprint sensor and that it will have "an amazing feature."

According to reports, the sensor in the Note 3 will be used to unlock the smartphone, but also to enable a "Dual User Mode." Such an option would allow for the regular unlocking methods, such as password protection or simple swipe-to-unlock, but would give access to a user's sensitive files were it unlocked with the owner's fingerprint.

The source does not explain why Samsung did not roll out the technology with its much more popular Galaxy S4 flagship's debut earlier this year, but the South Korean tech giant could be simply testing the waters on the technology ahead of a larger rollout. The Note 2, predecessor to the device Samsung will announce today, is popular in its own right — moving millions of units in its first two months of release — so it could serve as a suitable testing ground for Samsung releasing the technology for a wider segment of its product line.

Should Samsung actually roll out fingerprint sensor technology with the Note 3, the tech giant could wind up getting a slight jump on its top rival, Apple. Apple is also expected to be ready to show off its own fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5S. Apple purchased AuthenTec, developer of a Smart Sensor technology, last year, and has reportedly been working that sensor technology into the next iPhone. That device is set to be unveiled at a special event just under a week after Samsung's presentation at IFA in Berlin.

Fingerprint sensing technology, should it appear in one of the devices or both, will represent a significant move forward in mobile device security. Wells Fargo on Wednesday raised its projected price range for Apple stock on rumors of a fingerprint sensor, saying that the technology has the potential to drive corporate adoption of new handsets thanks to the strong security measures. It could also greatly boost mobile commerce, giving consumers a tough layer of security for NFC-based buying or other e-commerce that is not easily replicated.