That small, finger-sized dimple on the back of the Nexus 6 was supposed to be for more than just balancing the oversized device. It turns out Motorla intended to include a fingerprint sensor on the phone, which could have created all kinds of software possibilities.
But while Motorola was working on putting this kind of technology into its phones in 2012, Apple bought AuthenTec, the pioneering biometric security company that Motorola was working with, for $356 million. That didn’t leave Motorola enough time to start over with another company to get a working sensor ready for the Nexus 6's debut last year. Apple beat them to the gate, debuting a fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5s.
That’s the story from Dropbox CEO Dennis Woodside, who held the same job at Motorola at the time. In his interview with The Telegraph he also says if the sensor had made it into the Nexus 6 “it wouldn’t have made that big of a deal,” though it would have given Google’s flagship device some nice feature parity with the latest iPhones. While another company was developing fingerprint sensors, Woodside says they weren’t far enough along to include a working product in Motorola phones. Nexus 6 firmware files show support for a fingerprint sensor was pulled just before release, indicating Motorola was still hoping to get one in.
The story behind the story: Motorola isn’t the only Android phone maker trying to catch up to Apple’s Touch ID. Samsung’s Galaxy S5 uses one, though it requires a swipe on the home button and is rather clunky in practice. The GS6 may have a better implementation, with rumors the company is building a one-touch style sensor like its iPhone rival.