Apple Inc.’s AAPL -2.28% latest product launch could breathe new life into a technology that failed to take hold the first time: fingerprint scanners.

Placing a finger on a computer or smartphone has long been proposed as a way to avoid the need for passwords to authenticate users of computers and other devices. People familiar with the matter said last week that Apple will include a fingerprint scanner on the more expensive of two iPhones it is expected to unveil Tuesday at an event at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.

Because of Apple’s influence, other companies are likely to follow. At least one new smartphone running Google Inc.’s GOOG +0.07% Android operating system to be released this year will include a similar fingerprint sensor, though it is unclear if that phone will be sold in the U.S, a person familiar with the matter said. A Google spokesman declined to comment.

Behind the activity is a growing recognition that passwords are a porous defense for consumers’ information—particularly on mobile devices likely to be lost or stolen. At the same time, recent technology advances have made fingerprint scanners more accurate and reliable, addressing issues that previously impeded their adoption.

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