Hackers Trick Samsung Galaxy S8 Iris Recognition Using a Printed Photo and a Contact Lens

German hackers have successfully broken the iris recognition authentication in the Samsung Galaxy S8 using equipment that costs less than the price of the smartphone, according to ArsTechnica.

Hackers with the Chaos Computer Club used a digital camera, a Samsung laser printer, and a contact lens to achieve the feat. The hack involved taking a picture of the phone owner's face, printing it out on paper, carefully placing the contact lens on the iris in the printout, and holding the image in front of the locked Galaxy S8.


The video shown above was posted by the hackers to demonstrate the process in action. The photo doesn't have to be a close-up shot, although using night-shot mode or removing the infrared filter helps, according to the hackers.

The hack comes despite the fact that both Samsung and Princeton Identity, the manufacturer of the authentication technology, say iris recognition provides "airtight security" that allows consumers to "finally trust that their phones are protected". Princeton Identity have also said the Samsung partnership "brings us one step closer to making iris recognition the standard for user authentication."

The Galaxy S8 is one of the first flagship phones to offer iris recognition as a convenient alternative to using a passcode or fingerprint, but the hackers said they suspect future mobile devices that offer iris recognition may be equally easy to hack. Apple is widely expected to include the feature alongside Touch ID and face recognition in this year's much-rumored OLED iPhone, although the possible origins of the technology remain unclear.

Apple has already trademarked "Iris Engine", presumably in relation to the upcoming feature, with its acquisition of companies such as Faceshift and PrimeSense lending credence to the suggestion that Apple is developing its own solution for the so-called "iPhone 8". One report has claimed that Taiwan-based supplier Xintec, an affiliate of Apple manufacturer TSMC, is mass-producing the iris recognition chips for Apple.

Samsung reportedly added a facial recognition capability to the Galaxy S8 because of doubts about the reliability of iris scanning on its own, but the security of the facial recognition itself came into question almost immediately, when a photo of a user's face was used to unlock a handset at the S8 launch event.


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Galaxy S8 Preorders Were Samsung’s ‘Best Ever’

Samsung's trouble with the Galaxy Note 7, which notably caused several fires due to battery troubles and led to a full recall, hasn't affected demand for its newly launched Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+.

According to a statement released this morning by Samsung (via VentureBeat), Samsung saw 30 percent year-over-year growth in preorders compared to the Galaxy S7. While Samsung did not give specific sales numbers, the company said it saw its "best ever" preorder period.

"We are delighted to see the response to the Galaxy S8 and S8+," remarked Samsung Electronics America president Tim Baxter. "The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are a result of that recommitment and the market has responded -- with a more than 30 percent year-over-year growth in pre-orders versus the record pre-orders we had with Galaxy S7, making it our best ever. The response is humbling, energizing and points to a great launch week. We aim to push the boundaries of what's possible in the name of a better, smarter, more exciting experience for our consumers."
The Galaxy S8 shares many features that could potentially be coming in Apple's 2017 OLED iPhone, including an edge-to-edge OLED display, iris scanning, a rear fingerprint scanner, facial recognition, IP68 water resistance, and camera improvements, though it does not feature a dual-lens setup as the iPhone 8 will.

Samsung's smartphone is, however, launching without one of its key features -- support for Bixby, Samsung's new virtual assistant built on Viv technology acquired from the original developers behind Siri. Bixby's English-language launch has been delayed due to performance issues, leaving one of the buttons on the Galaxy S8 non-functional.

Despite the missing functionality, the S8 and S8+ have received largely positive reviews. The AMOLED display is said to be "wonderfully vibrant and sharp," while the phone itself has been described as "slimmer and more attractive" than the iPhone 7 Plus but with a bigger screen.

Camera reviews suggest the low-light camera performance of the S8 beats the performance of the iPhone 7 Plus, but that's comparing a new device to a previous-generation device. Rumors suggest a major camera overhaul is coming with the iPhone 8, which appears to feature a dual-lens vertical camera that could result in both better images and augmented reality functionality.

Apple's iPhone 8 won't be coming until September, and even then, rumors suggest the higher-end OLED model could be constrained until late 2017 or early 2018.

Samsung's Galaxy S8 and S8+ went on sale on April 21 in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. The 5.8-inch Galaxy S8 starts at $750, while the larger 6.2-inch Galaxy S8+ starts at $850.


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iPhone 7 Plus and Galaxy S8 Cameras Compared as New Samsung Phones Go on Sale

Samsung's new flagship Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones went on sale today in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and Korea, as the company looks to rebound from last year's Note7 debacle. Samsung will be encouraged by the record one million pre-orders it has already taken in Korea alone, while analysts are predicting global sales to reach at least 45 million units.

The 5.8-inch and 6.2-inch devices cost $725 and $825, respectively, which gets users an OLED screen that takes up 80 percent of the front of the handsets. Online reviews appeared earlier this week praising the phones' Infinity Display, but several marked them down for the relocation of the fingerprint scanner to the rear of the devices, right alongside the camera lens.


The camera itself has received less coverage, as it's actually the same 12MP dual pixel sensor as the one that appeared in last year's Galaxy S7. However, Samsung has tweaked the software powering the f/1.7 lens in an attempt to improve image processing. To compare the results with those of the iPhone 7 Plus, Tom's Guide posted a selection of side-by-side comparison shots taken with the two rival phones.

Overall, the Galaxy S8 came out on top, but only by a slight margin. Despite lackluster macro performance with the S8, both phones' bright light results were said to be generally equal, but Samsung's new device bested the iPhone 7 Plus in well-lit nighttime and low-light shots, offering "generally richer" colors, sharper subjects, and "significantly more detail" in indoor and outdoor tests.


Despite the higher megapixel count of the S8's front-facing camera (8MP versus 7MP on the iPhone 7), Apple's phone was deemed to take sharper selfie shots with richer colors, while the two phones were tied in 4K 30fps video tests, although the S8's audio was said to be slightly cleaner.

Apple is thought to be testing a new dual-lens camera system similar to the iPhone 7 Plus for this year's upcoming OLED iPhone, which will have a Samsung-made display. Rumors suggest the front-facing camera of the iPhone 8 will use a "revolutionary" 3D-sensing system capable of identifying the depth and location of subjects, which could be used for facial and iris recognition or in future augmented reality features.


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Galaxy S8 Reviews: Full-Front Display Receives Top Marks, But Rear Fingerprint Scanner is Awkwardly Positioned

Reviews of Samsung's new Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ hit the web today, and given each smartphone's potential similarities to Apple's rumored iPhone with an OLED display, we have rounded up some of the impressions below.

Galaxy S8's Infinity Display (Image: The Verge)

The vast majority of reviews praised Samsung's so-called Infinity Display, which takes up over 80 percent of the front of the smartphones. The design results in smartphones with large 5.8-inch or 6.2-inch screens that are still easy to hold in one hand or put in your pocket, according to reviews.

Dan Seifert, reporting for The Verge:
… I’m a fan of the new shape and the fact that it lets me have a much larger display without making the Galaxy S8 too unwieldy to use. On top of that, the Quad HD Super AMOLED panel is wonderfully vibrant and sharp, and it’s very bright, even outdoors under direct sunlight. It’s no exaggeration to say this is the best smartphone display I’ve ever seen.
Brian Heater, reporting for TechCrunch:
I’ve been carrying the Galaxy S8+ around for a few days now, and it fits in my pocket every bit as comfortably as the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus. And you’re able to operate that phone with a single hand, so this device will be no problem.
Steve Kovach, reporting for Business Insider:
It’s an impressive feat of engineering. At 5.8 inches, the Galaxy S8’s screen is larger than the iPhone 7 Plus screen, but packed on a slimmer and more attractive body. The iPhone looks chunky and outdated by comparison. We’re getting closer and closer to the dream of having a phone that’s all display on the front.
Lance Ulanoff, reporting for Mashable:
A 6.2-inch smartphone sounds comically large. However, the Galaxy S8+ is unusually narrow, with a screen aspect ratio of 18.5:9. Plus, the edges are tapered — front and back — much in the same way the Galaxy S7’s back edge was. The result is a phone that looks a bit long but is comfortable to hold and, at least to my hands, doesn’t feel large at all.
Walt Mossberg, reporting for Recode:
Samsung has drastically altered the rule that big screens mean huge phones. Even this smaller of the new Galaxy S models has a larger screen than the biggest iPhone, but it’s much narrower and easier to hold and to slip into a pocket.
In order to achieve the larger display without significantly increasing the physical size of the smartphone, Samsung removed the home button from the front of the Galaxy S8. Samsung then relocated the fingerprint scanner to the back of the phone, positioning it next to the camera.

Galaxy S8's rear fingerprint sensor (Image: The Verge)

Unfortunately, many reviews found that placement of the fingerprint scanner to be awkwardly positioned next to the camera.

Nicole Nguyen, reporting for BuzzFeed News:
The fingerprint unlock feature has traditionally been programmed into the device’s home button. Seeing as the S8 ditched the button, it’s now on the back of the phone. The S8’s fingerprint sensor and the camera feel basically the same, which means I kept smudging the camera lens and unlocking the phone at the same time.
Dan Seifert, reporting for The Verge:
The high placement of the scanner makes it difficult and awkward to reach with my index finger, even on the smaller Galaxy S8. I have to practically perform finger stretches before I can reach it with any sort of regularity on the Galaxy S8+. Second, because it is right next to the camera and has a similar shape and feel to the camera module, I frequently touch the camera lens instead of the fingerprint scanner, smearing the lens with all of my lovely finger oils.
Apple is rumored to be working on a completely overhauled iPhone, and a display taking up nearly the entire front of the smartphone is a widely expected feature. Apple is also expected to remove the Home button, so it may too relocate Touch ID to the rear if it can't integrate it under the display.


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Samsung to Delay English-Language Launch of Siri Rival ‘Bixby’

Samsung's Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, announced in late March, are set to go on sale starting on April 21, but one feature will be notably missing on smartphones sold in the United States - Samsung's Bixby voice assistant.

Samsung is planning to delay the launch of the English-language version of Bixby, reports The Wall Street Journal, due to performance issues discovered over the course of the last few weeks.


The English-language version of Bixby could be delayed until the end of May, according to a source that spoke to The Wall Street Journal, but Samsung has not made a final decision on timing. A Samsung spokesperson confirmed that the Bixby service will not be available in the United States until "later this spring."
During internal tests in recent weeks, the performance of Bixby's voice recognition in English has lagged behind that of the virtual assistant's performance in Korean, these people said, and company executives are still discussing when to make Bixby available in English.
Samsung's Bixby virtual assistant was first announced in March, ahead of the debut of the Galaxy S8 and S8+. According to Samsung, Bixby is "fundamentally different" than competing products like Siri and Cortana because it is able to be deeply integrated into apps.

Samsung also says Bixby is intelligent enough to understand commands with incomplete information and execute the commanded task to the best of its knowledge. Bixby was built on technology that was acquired from Viv, an AI virtual assistant created by some of the same people who originally built Siri.

As a major feature in the Galaxy S8, with a dedicated button on the left side of the device, Bixby's absence could deter customers from purchasing Samsung's new smartphone.

The Galaxy S8 and the S8+ feature a 5.8 or 6.2-inch AMOLED display, a 12-megapixel rear camera, an 8-megapixel front-facing camera, IP68 water resistance, iris scanning and facial recognition capabilities, a Snapdragon 835 processor, and 4GB RAM. Pricing on the S8 starts at $750 while pricing on the S8+ starts at $850.


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Samsung to Declare Record Q1 Results, Bumper 2017 Predicted on S8 Profits

Samsung is on course to record a three and a half year high in first quarter profits this year, with analysts predicting record earnings for the rest of 2017 as the company gears up to start selling its Galaxy S8 smartphone (via Reuters).

Shares in the tech giant are nearing record highs after gaining nearly 17 percent since the beginning of Q1, coming on top of a 43 percent surge in 2016. The numbers are particularly impressive, given the costly discontinuation of its fire-prone Note7 in October and an ongoing corruption scandal involving the company's chairman Jay Y Lee, who is currently on trial for bribery and other charges. Samsung will issue its earnings guidance early on Friday.

Its resilience is being put down to its dominance in the NAND flash memory market and a boom in memory chips spurred by demand from smartphones and servers. Estimates suggest its January-March operating profit from could hit 9.4 trillion won ($8.44 billion), with its chip division alone making up 5.8 trillion won of that figure, which would stand as the South Korean firm's highest profit since Q3 2013.


Analysts expect tight supply conditions for memory chips to continue this year, particularly in NAND flash chips used for long-term data storage. Factor in uncertainty over the fate of Toshiba's flash unit, which accounts for 20 percent of the market and is currently the subject of a bidding war, and that leaves Samsung's mobile division as its key earnings variable.

Analysts are bullish about Samsung's prospects, however. The Galaxy S8 has been praised following its March 29 launch, with sales expected to exceed the S7 and set a new record for the company.
"We think the S8 series will definitely be a strong flagship for Samsung and help it gain back market share," Counterpoint analyst Tom Kang said.

"The launch of the fully revamped iPhone 8 will also be threatening. But there is also pent up demand for Samsung devices rolling over from last year due to the disappearance of the Note 7," he said. "So those 2 factors will balance out."
Samsung share prices have already benefitted from reports that the firm will be Apple's sole provider of OLED displays for the highly anticipated "iPhone 8". Earlier this week, reports indicated Apple has already placed orders for 70 million OLED panels for the phone, which is expected to feature a major design overhaul with an edge-to-edge display, glass body, and a premium price tag.


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Facial Recognition Feature on Galaxy S8 Bypassed Using Just a Photo

The security of the facial recognition feature on Samsung's new Galaxy S8 smartphone has come into question, after a video was shared online that appears to show one of the handsets being unlocked by waving a photo of the user's face in front of the camera.

The YouTube video embedded below, recorded at the S8 launch event, shows the registered user of the device presenting a picture of himself to the phone's front-facing camera. After a couple of attempts, the phone recognizes the close-up selfie as the user's face, and the lock screen is subsequently bypassed.

Video posted by iDeviceHelp

Last month it was reported that Samsung had decided to add facial recognition to the Galaxy S8 because of late doubts about the speed and reliability of the iris scanning feature also included in phone, so it's possible that the software algorithms still require some fine-tuning. However, it's more likely that Samsung's cameras rely on standard 2D facial recognition technology, which past demonstrations have shown can be easily tricked with two-dimensional photos, suggesting use as a standalone authentication feature remains limited.

Indeed, in a statement given to ArsTechnica, Samsung explained that facial recognition cannot be used to authenticate mobile payments or to access the device's Secure Folder, both of which require the use of the phone's other biometric features.
The Galaxy S8 provides various levels of biometric authentication, with the highest level of authentication from the iris scanner and fingerprint reader. In addition, the Galaxy S8 provides users with multiple options to unlock their phones through both biometric security options, and convenient options such as swipe and facial recognition. It is important to reiterate that facial recognition, while convenient, can only be used for opening your Galaxy S8 and currently cannot be used to authenticate access to Samsung Pay or Secure Folder.
Apple is said to be including both iris scanning and a facial recognition feature in this year's high-end "iPhone 8" device. The OLED iPhone is rumored to have a "revolutionary" front-facing camera system with infrared 3D sensing capabilities, which may go some way to overcoming the authentication limitations such as those found in Samsung's device. Apple is also thought to be embedding its Touch ID fingerprint technology into a modified Samsung OLED display.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)
Tag: Galaxy S8

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Samsung Unveils Galaxy S8 and S8+ With Iris and Facial Recognition, No Home Button on Front

Samsung officially announced its much-anticipated Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones today at simultaneous launch events held in New York's Lincoln Center and London's Olympic Park.

The company's post-Note7 comeback device and de facto "iPhone 8" rival has already been the subject of several leaks in recent weeks, but today we finally got the full picture of what Samsung's new flagship models are offering consumers who are in the market for a new smartphone this year.

As expected, the S8 comes in two sizes with a curved edge-to-edge 5.8-inch or 6.2-inch QHD AMOLED display. The always-on screen has a 2960x1440 resolution within a minimal bezel design that pushes the home button with fingerprint recognition to the rear of the device, alongside the camera.

The rear camera features a 12 megapixel f/1.7 lens, while an 8 megapixel f/1.7 camera with autofocus sits above the screen on the front. Samsung has also integrated iris scanning and facial recognition into the front camera to make unlocking the phone and signing into websites easier.


On the right side of the handset is the power button, while the left side houses volume controls and a separate button to activate Bixby, Samsung's new virtual assistant, developed by the original creators of Siri. Harman Kardon stereo speakers are visible on the bottom of the device, along with a USB-C port and a headphone jack.

Inside, the S8 features a Snapdragon 835 processor, a 10 nanometer chip made in partnership by Qualcomm and Samsung. Paired with the chip is 4GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of storage with microSD support for up to 256GB. The standard model has a 3,000mAh battery, while the Plus device gets 3,500mAh. Both models support fast wireless charging.

On the software side, the S8 runs Android 7.0 and has a Bluetooth dual audio feature that lets users stream audio to two separate headsets or speakers at the same time. There's also a multi-window feature that enables two apps to run on the screen simultaneously. Another feature Samsung is debuting with the S8 is Samsung DeX, which allows users to connect the phone to an external display, keyboard, and mouse, to use the operating system like a computer.

The 5.8-inch Galaxy S8 price starts at $750, while the 6.2-inch 8+ device starts at $850. Prices may vary. Both handsets are waterproof to IP68 standard and come in Midnight Black, Orchid Gray, and Arctic Silver colorways. Pre-orders begin on March 30. Both handsets will go on sale online and in stores in the U.S., Canada, and across Europe on April 21.

The pieces are finally starting to come together for what should be a remarkable battle of the smartphones this year. Apple's widely rumored high-end redesigned iPhone with a 5.8-inch edge-to-edge OLED display will likely launch in September, although the majority of stock may not be available until later in the fourth quarter, according to recent rumors.

Apple is widely expected to use Samsung-made AMOLED display technology in at least one of three possible iPhones to be released this year, so the S8 arguably offers the best preview yet of the screen quality of possible future Apple devices. Rumors suggest Touch ID could be embedded in the equivalent Apple display, while iris scanning, facial recognition, and some form of wireless charging have also been floated as possible features of a "10th anniversary" edition iPhone.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)
Tags: Samsung, Galaxy S8

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Samsung to Sell Refurbished Note7 Phones ‘to Minimize Environmental Impact’ of Recall

Samsung announced on Monday that it will sell refurbished versions of its Galaxy Note7 smartphones, the model it officially discontinued last year because of fire-prone batteries.

Samsung's Note 7 devices were permanently scrapped in October and recalled globally, after multiple reports of some phones self-combusting. A highly publicized in-depth investigation by the company discovered that batteries supplied by two different companies were to blame. No other faults were discovered in the components or parts.

The news surprised some analysts, coming just days before Samsung officially announces its Galaxy S8, which is generally regarded as the firm's comeback mobile device and "iPhone 8" rival. Samsung said the refurbished Note7 phones will be equipped with new batteries that have gone through new safety checks.

"Regarding the Galaxy Note 7 devices as refurbished phones or rental phones, applicability is dependent upon consultations with regulatory authorities and carriers as well as due consideration of local demand," Samsung said in a statement. "The product details including the name, technical specification and price range will be announced when the device is available. Samsung will not be offering refurbished Galaxy Note 7 devices for rent or sale in the US."
The move should allow Samsung to recoup some of the $2.3 billion in losses it suffered because of the ill-fated phone, but the company told The Verge that the main objective of introducing the refurbished devices was "solely to reduce and minimize any environmental impact".

Last month, Greenpeace protestors interrupted the company's Mobile World Congress keynote and demanded to know what the company's plans were for its 4.3 million recalled devices, so it's possible Samsung's latest announcement is timed to avoid a repeat incident overshadowing its S8 launch on Wednesday. "Samsung's announcement is the first step to show its effort to set a new path for recycling smartphones starting with Note 7s," Greenpeace wrote in a blog post.

Samsung told Reuters the company has not set specifics on refurbished sales plans, including which markets they will be sold in and when they will go on sale. However, it noted that the phones will not be sold in India, as some media mistakenly reported earlier this year.


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Samsung Introduces Siri Rival ‘Bixby’ Ahead of Galaxy S8

Samsung today officially announced Bixby, a new intelligent interface for its devices, starting with the upcoming Galaxy S8.

Galaxy S8 renders leaked by Evan Blass

Samsung said Bixby will be "fundamentally different" than virtual assistants like Siri and Cortana in that it will be deeply integrated within apps. The interface will be able to support almost every task that an app is capable of performing using conventional touch commands, rather than just a few selected tasks.
When using a Bixby-enabled application, users will be able to call upon Bixby at any time and it will understand the current context and state of the application and will allow users to carry out the current work-in-progress continuously. Bixby will allow users to weave various modes of interactions including touch or voice at any context of the application.
Samsung added that Bixby will be intelligent enough to understand commands with incomplete information and execute the commanded task to the best of its knowledge, and the interface will then prompt users to provide more information and "take the execution of the task in piecemeal."

Samsung said Bixby, at its core, is about removing friction. The interface will have a dedicated button on the left side of the Galaxy S8, and its supposed completeness, contextual awareness, and cognitive tolerance is designed to make using the smartphone more seamless and intuitive.

Dr. Injong Rhee, Samsung's head of research and development for software and services, speaking with The Verge:
"A lot of other agents are focused on being knowledgeable, providing answers to fact-based questions, glorified extensions of search. Bixby is capable of developing a new interface to our devices, or devices that are going to host Bixby."
Bixby will initially be limited to ten preinstalled apps on the Galaxy S8. The intelligent interface will gradually expand to Samsung's other smartphones, and even its other products like TVs, wearables, and air conditioners, while Samsung plans to open up Bixby to third-party apps in the future.


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