Guest Post

Did Samsung Really Just Copy Apple (Again)?

Companies at the most recent Consumer Electronics Show presented a lot of new notable technologies. From driverless vehicles to foldable phones to smart doors, there’s a ton of promising devices to choose from. But if you think all of these ideas had an original spin to them, try again. When Samsung presented its keynote on January 6, they displayed a facial recognition logo that appeared to have been ripped from Apple. That’s right — the copycat is back.

What Happened?

Just under an hour into the conference, Samsung’s head of consumer electronics, H.S. Kim, started to discuss Samsung Pass. This move is the company’s foray into mobile cybertechnology measures, which includes biometric recognition. During this time, a variety of icons appeared on a slide behind Kim. One was an outline of a face with a smile and vertical eyes. As we know, this representation is identical to Apple’s Face ID icon. What’s odder is that it isn’t Samsung Pass’s official logo — a human eye and fingerprint — so there’s no reason they should’ve used it.

It’s Anyone’s Game

There’s no denying that this is a space many companies have explored. Robotics experts say that artificial intelligence is a critical competitive advantage for businesses all around. It’s easy to see why Samsung has implemented such a feature in the first place. Android users have a right to this technology too, so we can’t exactly say they’ve copied Apple here. Also, these two brands are continually pitted against one another — Samsung wants to compete with Apple, so why wouldn’t they look to facial recognition?

Past Issues

The more interesting matter here is that it isn’t the first time something like this has happened. In the past, Samsung has taken notes from Apple in several ways. They’ve copied the look of their chargers, tablets and phones. In 2013, Samsung came out with Samsung Wallet, a very similar version of Apple’s Passbook e-wallet. Two years ago, a California court ordered Samsung to pay Apple over $500 million for design patent damages.

But Samsung has never been the only copycat. After the release of the Galaxy S6 Edge, Samsung made curved screens on their devices standard. Both Apple and Google then applied this feature to their products, starting with the iPhone 8 and Pixel, respectively. Apple also borrowed the idea of the Apple Pencil from Samsung, which came out with the Galaxy Note stylus almost four years prior. Several other instances have come up from both companies.

We Were Mislead

A majority of us can agree that yes, Samsung took Apple’s Face ID icon and used it to promote Pass. But it’s important to note that Samsung wasn’t just careless — they misled their audience. When this moment happened during the keynote speech, a series of images was displayed on a slide. Alongside the copied logo were symbols for the various ways Samsung can authenticate a user. These options included retina, heart rate, fingerprint, physical activity and touch.

Basically, Samsung implied that Pass would offer 3D facial recognition. Currently, their devices scan a user’s irises to authenticate. When they incorporated Apple’s face logo during the CES presentation, it made it seem like they were going to add 3D facial recognition. This isn’t the case, as the anticipated Galaxy 11 includes one small front camera and no room for anything else. Samsung has a patent for 3D facial recognition software, so it’s certainly possible it’s something they’ll pursue in the future — just not with Pass as they suggested.

Same Old, Same Old

So yes – Samsung did copy Apple once more. Though somewhat of a predictable move, the real error lies in the fact that they didn’t tell the truth. Sure, their devices can verify users through a facial scan, but it only picks up on the eyes, which is in no way like the 3D facial recognition Apple and Google offer on their phones and tablets. All in all, the logo fiasco was to be expected in the ceaseless battle between Samsung and Apple.

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