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How Apple denied the Nexus 6 a finger scanner

You know that little dimple on the back of the mighty Nexus 6? The same one that appears on the Moto X (2014)? According to former Moto CEO Dennis Woodside, who departed the company for Dropbox earlier this year, that dimple that so nicely accommodates your finger is exactly where a finger scanner was meant to be. Until Apple came along, that is.

Nexus6 vs MotoX2014 3
There's more to that dimple than meets the eye. Er, finger. © ANDROIDPIT

Many of us pondered what that dimple was for when we first saw it, and when the Moto X (2014) was showcased at IFA last year I couldn't wait to get my hands on it to push it, stroke it and generally fumble around with that indentation until I made it do something. Suffice it to say I was unsuccessful.

But Woodside's claims in The Telegraph interview make it clear that the dimple was originally intended for another purpose. The reason the finger scanner was canned and the hole partially filled in is because Apple had already acquired AuthenTec – a major supplier of finger scanners and the company responsible for the iPhone's TouchID sensor – and no other suppliers were able to fulfill Motorola's demands on top of everyone else's in the industry. So the feature was cut.

Nexus6 vs iPhone6 7
Of course Apple is to blame!© ANDROIDPIT

The secret behind that is that it was supposed to be fingerprint recognition, and Apple bought the best supplier. So the second best supplier was the only one available to everyone else in the industry and they weren’t there yet. – Dennis Woodside, former Motorola CEO

The long term usefulness of finger scanners as a fast, reliable and secure locking feature remains to be seen, with only the iPhone and the Huawei Ascend Mate 7 having finger scanners I'd actually consider using on a daily basis.

Still, finger scanners are relatively easy to spoof and iris scanning is still not fast enough or functional enough outside specific parameters to replace them, so we may see more finger scanners in the coming year. If only manufacturers can buy enough, that is. Otherwise there might be more spaces that look like they might have held a finger scanner, but don't.

Would you want a finger scanner on the Nexus 6? How do you secure your phone?

Source: The Telegraph


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  • Thanks. I helped my wife set it up on her iPhone 6+ so I understand what you're saying, but the fact that I have to touch the scanner on my Note 4 when I swipe my finger over it was confusing me.

    • The good thing about swipe sensors is that they can be really small, like the Samsung home button. The Saygus V2 I saw at CES 2015 has a side mounted one that's the size of a volume rocker. While I prefer the speed and accuracy of touch-based sensors it kinda sucks that they have to be so big.

  • I'm not clear about what you are calling touch based sensors. I like the fingerprint scanner on my Note 4, but since I have to touch the scanner for it to work, how is it different from the touch based sensors you are referring to?

  • The fingerprint scannedr on my S5 is amazing. It always gets it right, because I set it up correctly :)

    • It did get a huge improvement in accuracy after that software update, but I still don't think it's as good as touch-based sensors. Still, I'm happy it's useful for you.

    • Moni, how'd you do that? I have the note whew and mine is very good, my wife has the s5 and it is HORRIBLE

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