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Apple's AuthenTec Acquisition Left Nexus 6 Without a Fingerprint Sensor

The dimple on the back of Motorola's Nexus 6 would have featured a Touch ID-like fingerprint sensor if Apple had not acquired sensor firm AuthenTec in 2012, according to former Motorola Mobility CEO Dennis Woodside.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Woodside states the company had plans to include the finger-sensing feature in the Nexus 6, which was launched late last year, but due to Apple's poaching of "the best supplier" for the technology and other suppliers not meeting quality expectations, Motorola decided to remove the feature before launch.

nexus_6_lollipop
“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,” says Woodside. Nonetheless, he adds, the addition of fingerprint recognition, “wouldn’t have made that big a difference.”
Woodside, now COO of Dropbox, expresses relief at freedom from these "uncontrollable market forces" in his new position. "We're not trying to serve ads or sell hardware," he told The Telegraph.

Apple's introduction of AuthenTec-based Touch ID on the iPhone 5s sparked much interest in fingerprint-sensing technology, and the company continues to work to improve upon the technology. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus introduced a more sensitive version of the sensor and it is now being used to authenticate purchases made with the company's new Apple Pay mobile payments service.



Top Rated Comments

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51 months ago
Why does MacRumors keep using words meant to provoke?

Apple BOUGHT a company, not POACHED it. Poaching is a term generally used for illegal activities like illegal hunting, killing or capturing of wild animals.

The Telegraph article linked makes no mention of poaching - it uses the word BOUGHT.

Way to go, MacRumors.... keep showing your anti-Apple bias.
Rating: 59 Votes
51 months ago
Very wise move by Apple. One of their best decisions in recent years.
Rating: 39 Votes
51 months ago

Odd location for a fingerprint sensor.


About as odd as the sticky lollipop leaning against the new phone. :)
Rating: 24 Votes
51 months ago

Nonetheless, he adds, the addition of fingerprint recognition, "wouldn't have made that big a difference."


It's curious to me how much the fingerprint feature has been downplayed by the Android world. I just upgraded to a 6 a couple months ago after 3 years with an iPhone 4S and I'm at that point where I don't know how I got by without the fingerprint sensor. The ability to unlock the phone that way alone is hands-down my favorite feature. It would be hard to switch to anything without it now.
Rating: 24 Votes
51 months ago
So the Nexus 6's enclosure was designed at least 2.5 years before launch?
I knew that making a phone took time, but I didn't know it took that much time.
Rating: 16 Votes
51 months ago
Odd location for a fingerprint sensor.
Rating: 15 Votes
51 months ago

Odd location for a fingerprint sensor.


Technically it's not bad if you are ok with being limited to your index finger, which automatically ends up on that location.

I prefer the Apple solution, not because "Apple cannot do no wrong" but simply for the reason that I have both thumbs and index fingers stored - for example when I use the phone in the kitchen while cooking (or mixing drinks :-) ) I can leave it face up on the counter and unlock it with my index fingers instead of having to pick it up or twisting my wrist to get the thumb down on it. One hand operation works great this way.
Rating: 14 Votes
51 months ago

Why does MacRumors keep using words meant to provoke?


Welcome to the internet, paid for by clicks :)

Apple BOUGHT a company, not POACHED it. Poaching is a term generally used for illegal activities like illegal hunting, killing or capturing of wild animals.


"To poach" also means to appropriate for one's self, or to attract away from competitors.

Every other company had been sharing Authentec as a source for fingerprint sensors for many years. Such sensors were all the rage on PDAs around 2000. Heck, the world's first retina-screen (312 PPI) smartphone, the 2007 Toshiba G900, had a fingerprint sensor that could be used for unlocking, scrolling and even launching different apps per finger.

Apple, on the other hand, seems to dislike level playing fields. They would rather be the only one with access to the latest and greatest tech.

So they have bought previously shared technology sources, like Authentec, and locked others down with exclusives, as they did with GTAT and LiquidMetal (which Samsung had been using since 2002).

I think such actions could be described as "poaching". But yes, I agree it's a loaded word.
Rating: 12 Votes
51 months ago


Apple, on the other hand, seems to dislike level playing fields. They would rather be the only one with access to the latest and greatest tech.

So they have bought previously shared technology sources, like Authentec, and locked others down with exclusives, as they did with GTAT and LiquidMetal (which Samsung had been using since 2002).


I think it's strange that you interpret Apple's strategy for buying companies in terms of denying other companies the use of technologies. You say "[Apple] seems to dislike level playing fields", as if other companies are egalitarian and friendly. Every company wants an advantage; that's business. Not every company has the cash or the foresight to take advantage of opportunities.

But I don't think that's Apple's main goal. Apple likes controlling the hardware mainly so they can optimize it for their own needs, whether that be a need for their devices, or a software need. Buying GTAT was because they needed someone who could produce sapphire to fit their specific needs (turned out GTAT was a sham though!). Chip designer Intrinsity, with their custom design tools, was bought so that Apple could design their own Ax series chips. And I assume that buying Authentec enabled them to integrate with their devices and security mechanism more effectively.

Sure, there's a competitive advantage in locking up valuable technology, but that is a secondary benefit. They have the cash reserves, so they'd be foolish not to. And it's not like Apple is some uniquely disruptive force in the industry on that front.
Rating: 9 Votes
51 months ago

6s?


Yeah, I know... it was late. :D

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Could you take a photo of your 6S? I'm very curious to see what it looks like. :cool:


No. Tim Cook only gives them out to people who make dumb typos on Macrumors. We're a very exclusive crowd. ;)

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I'm not sure that they are downplaying how nice the fingerprint sensor is as much as how it affects your choice to buy a device. I don't think that the fingerprint sensor is a singular feature that is going to sway someone who was going to buy an android phone into buying an iPhone or vice versa. I also don't think that adding the sensor is going to change who buys it all that much.

It is an awesome feature, but I don't think it changes the buying equation all that much, especially for people who aren't already used to having it.


That's sort of my point. Once you have it (at least for me) it becomes an very important feature and part of the buying decision. I won't own another phone that doesn't have a fingerprint sensor. Maybe that's why it's downplayed to such a degree in the Android world. They just don't know what it's like. For me, there's no going back. I love it.
Rating: 7 Votes

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