Browser Wars

event_note April 30, 2015

HTML5 is great! Finally we can get rid of proprietary third party plugins like Adobe Flash Player or Microsoft Silverlight for media content.

Well, it's not that easy. Modern HTML5 capable browsers support presenting rich media in various formats but when it comes to capturing media, e.g. from a camera or microphone the browser support is thin on the ground.

And for the Identify operation we rely on the Microsoft Silverlight plugin at the moment for accessing the BWS via SOAP. Unfortunately it's getting more and more difficult to use the Microsoft Silverlight plugin in modern browsers.

So here are some remarks about various desktop web browsers and web browser on mobile devices.

Google Chrome version 42 and NSAPI

As announced the current Chrome browser from Google has disabled NPAPI so the Microsoft Silverlight plug-in won't work even if installed. For the Enrollment and Verification we also offer our BWS Unified User Interface using the RESTful API but the biometric operation Identify on BioID Playground relies on the Silverlight plug-in for using the SOAP API.

You can temporarily enable NPAPI again in chrome using the flag chrome://flags/#enable-npapi but this won't work anymore after September 2015 in Chrome 45 and later. See NPAPI deprecation: developer guide for more information on that topic.

Internet Explorer and Enhanced Protected Mode

In Microsoft Internet Explorer on Windows 8.1 the Enhanced Protection Mode is turned on by default. This effectively disables the Microsoft Silverlight Plugin. See the document Manage add-ons in Internet Explorer or "Access Denied" when you use some Silverlight applications in Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 8.1 on how to enable and disable the Enhanced Protection Mode.

Mobile Browsers, image upload and liveness detection

Browsers on mobile devices don't have Microsoft Silverlight support. And many mobile browsers don't support the HTML5 Media Capture and Streams API we use for our BWS Unified User Interface.

If the BioID Playground detects such a mobile browser it provides image upload instead. You can either choose a camera application to take a single image or choose an image file from the mobile device storage. Some browsers will only provide a file upload from the phone storage.

After uploading you will see an error message that the live detection is missing. This is on purpose and you can proceed to the biometric operation by acknowledging this warning.

Because of that limitation enrollment is not allowed on such browsers - without liveness detection one could easily create a biometric template based on still images.