FORTUNE — Here’s the challenge: To be incorporated as part of a regular start-up routine, fingerprint ID systems must be at least as easy and dependable as the pass codes they are meant to replace.
Which is why I finally gave up trying to use Apple’s (AAPL) TouchID system on my iPhone 5S.
Not that I’m a good test case. After 64 years of paper cuts, match burns, scarring and general wear and tear, the ridges on my left thumb are nearly worn off. I have trouble registering my print on TouchID, and have to re-register it nearly every day or my iPhone will forget who I am. (I gather from the comments on Apple’s support boards that I’m not the only one having these problems.)
I mention all this because a report Monday in SamMobile claims to have confirmed that Samsung’s next flagship smartphone — the Galaxy S5 — will not only feature a fingerprint recognition system like Apple’s, but one that will work better than TouchID.
I can’t dispute this. There are hundreds of competing fingerprint recognition systems — 670 participants registered 2,810 algorithms in this year’s Fingerprint Verification Contest — and we don’t know which (if any) Samsung is using.
But when Apple purchased AuthenTec for $356 million in July 2012 — more than it paid for any acquisition since NeXT — the biometric company was the world’s No. 1 provider of fingerprint verification systems. Its clients included Nokia, LG, HP, Motorola and Samsung.
Even then, Apple waited more than a year before it was ready to put a fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5S.
It’s possible that Samsung’s technology is way ahead of Apple’s. But given the timing, it feels like they’re playing catch-up.
UPDATE: I received many suggestions for how to improve my TouchID experience, almost all of which I had already tried. Repeatedly. But I hadn’t heard of Steve Gibson’s “overtraining” technique (explained step by step here). It’s quick and, so far (24 hours later), pretty effective. Fingers crossed.