Just over a month ago, we reported that the Nexus 6 had a fingerprint scanner until very late in its development process. The feature was supposedly canned just two months before the device’s unveiling but the story goes that it would have occupied the dimple on the back of the phone that now bears Motorola’s signature ‘M.’
Neither Google nor Motorola have ever confirmed the reports, but hints of support for a scanner were discovered in Lollipop’s code towards the end of last year. Similarly, we don’t know why such a feature would have been eliminated at the eleventh hour, though we speculated in December that it was because Apple had purchased the company, AuthenTec, responsible for the scanning tech Motorola used in the Atrix 4G. Now, we finally have confirmation and a reason, and it sounds as though we were correct.
Former Googler and Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside left Motorola in 2014 to lead Dropbox. But he still knows a thing or two about the development of the Nexus 6. Speaking to The Telegraph’s Matt Warman, he admitted that the dimple was supposed to house a fingerprint sensor and it was Apple’s purchase of AuthenTec that threw a wrench in the works.
“The secret behind that is that it was supposed to be fingerprint recognition, and Apple bought the best supplier,” Woodside admitted. “So the second best supplier was the only one available to everyone else in the industry and they weren’t there yet.”
Interestingly enough, Woodside goes on to say that the addition of a fingerprint scanner “wouldn’t have made that big a difference.” Indeed, he’s probably right. Though Apple has spent a lot of time on the integration of TouchID (it just opened up third party app integration last fall), Android doesn’t generally utilize fingerprint authentication at all.
Some manufacturers, like Samsung, have added their own solutions, but those are few and far between. Once mobile payments become more mainstream, this type of authentication will likely become more of a prerequisite for users, but for now, Woodside is probably right.