The Nexus 6 almost had a fingerprint scanner

Scan away

The Nexus 6 is an impressive handset, but in typical Nexus fashion it lacks some of the bells and whistles found elsewhere. One of those things is a fingerprint scanner.

That wasn't always the case though, as it seems that at one point a fingerprint scanner was planned for the phablet.

Ars Technica did some digging through the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and found a commit from late August which spills the beans. It's labelled 'shamu: remove fingerprint support', which really tells you all you need to know.

Clues in the code

The Nexus 6 was codenamed Shamu, so clearly before that point it had 'fingerprint support'. But there's more to be found. Digging in to the commit there are references to 'Validity' and 'Synaptics', which points to the company behind the tech, as Validity Sensors, Inc. was a fingerprint sensor company that was acquired by Synaptics.

Other commits mention scanning, enrolling and removing prints, as well as being able to use them as lockscreen security and even allowing other apps to tap into the API.

Less promisingly it looks like the system required a swipe like Samsung's implementation, rather than being able to scan a stationary print like Apple's Touch ID.

But for whatever reason, the functionality never made it to the Nexus 6 in the end. Still, there's hope that we could see it in future, perhaps as part of Android M.

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