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Fingerprint sensor for Google's Nexus 6 was nixed after Apple bought AuthenTec

Motorola planned a fingerprint sensor for the dimple that houses the Motorola logo on the back of the Nexus 6.

Motorola did intend to include a Touch ID-like fingerprint sensor in its Android flagship Nexus 6 smartphone, the company's then-CEO has revealed, but canceled the plan following Apple's acquisition of would-be component supplier AuthenTec.

"The secret behind that is that it was supposed to be fingerprint recognition, and Apple bought the best supplier," former Motorola chief Dennis Woodside told The Telegraph, referring to a dimple on the handset's rear that now contains the Motorola logo. "So the second best supplier was the only one available to everyone else in the industry and they weren't there yet."

Apple purchased AuthenTec in 2012, paying $356 million for the company. Though some of that outlay was recovered by selling AuthenTec's encryption business, Apple's primary motivator for the deal is now largely regarded to have been the intellectual property surrounding AuthenTec's Smart Sensor components.

Rumors that the Nexus 6 would include such a sensor began circulating months before the device was announced, but it was believed to be a swipe-style sensor as found in Samsung's Galaxy S5. It now appears that that was Motorola's backup plan, and it may have been the same for Samsung.

Users have complained about the effectiveness of Samsung's solution since the S5's release, calling out the fiddly swipe gesture necessary to use it. Meanwhile, Apple's Touch ID has won rave reviews and enabled the rollout of Apple Pay, arguably the most successful mobile payment system ever released.

Touch ID has been so successful as a differentiator that Samsung is rumored to have swapped their part out for a new Touch ID-style sensor in the Galaxy S6, likely from Swedish firm Fingerprint Cards, the company which supplies a similar part for Huawei's Ascend Mate 7.

Still, Woodside believes the addition of a fingerprint sensor "wouldn't have made that big a difference" for the Nexus 6.