The Nexus 6 almost had a fingerprint scanner

Nexus 6
A great phone could have been even better

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.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.