Google’s latest Nexus smartphone, the Nexus 6 phablet, is the company’s best handset to date, but the device could have been even better. Ars Technica reports that at least one prototype of the Nexus 6 also had a fingerprint sensor that could have offered users additional security features. However, for some reason, Google decided to scrap this particular feature, even though it clearly explored the possibility, as various bits of Android 5.0 code suggest.
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Digging through the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), the publication discovered that at the end of August, Google decided to remove fingerprint support from the handset, after also removing the hardware from the device — the fingerprint sensor was supposed to be supplied by Validity Sensors, a fingerprint sensor company that was purchased by Synaptics a year ago.
According to other bits of code, the fingerprint sensor in the Nexus 6 should have offered support for swiping movements of the finger, unlike Apple’s Touch ID sensor in the home button, which requires a stationary tap. The system would also show the user a picture on the screen indicating what part of the finger has to be scanned next.
Furthermore, in addition to unlocking the device, the fingerprint sensor could have been used by various other applications for various security-related and authentication features, including Google Wallet.
Ars points out that even though Google has canceled plans for such a Nexus feature, it’s likely that future Nexus devices running a next-gen Android OS version will also have a fingerprint sensor and accompanying features.