Android Marshmallow could bring native support for fingerprint scanning hardware



Before the Nexus 6 launched, there were hints inside AOSP that suggested the phone would come equipped with a fingerprint scanner. And according to ex-Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside, it would have had Apple swooped in and muddied things up.

If you’ve been doing this Android thing for awhile now, you’d know that fingerprint scanning smartphones are nothing new to Android. You can find them on Android devices dating all the way back to the original Motorola Atrix. It wasn’t until years later — no doubt thanks to the success of the iPhone 5S — Samsung followed suit with a scanner built into the Galaxy S5, albeit much more clunky than Apple’s implementation. More recently, HTC jumped on board with the HTC One M9 Plus and before that, the HTC One Max.

We said all that to say this: without a universal Android API for OEMs to tap into, all these manufacturers have to build their own solutions. That means proprietary software and the fingerprint reader only playing nice with a specific apps. With all kinds of security methods built into Android (even face detection) it’s odd that Google hasn’t addressed fingerprint scanners into Android. But that could soon change.

A new report from BuzzFeed suggests that Google will soon support native fingerprint authentication within Android, allowing users to log into apps like the Google Play Store using nothing but their fingerprint. Ars Technica was able to corroborate this story with their featured post recapping some of the thing we can expect out of this year’s Google I/O.

Also worth pointing out is how current Nexus hardware wouldn’t be able to support the necessary software APIs with a lack of fingerprint scanning hardware. If these new APIs are confirmed in a few more days, it could mean this year’s Nexus device will come equipped with a fingerprint reader. How else would Google test their new software?

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

Moto G 1st Gen (2013) now receiving Android 5.0.2 Lollipop update

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  1. This makes me wonder how the design of the new Nexus will be. Do you guys think they will add a single button underneath, or add it into the screen?

    I just received an email about Project Fi. It mentioned that I will soon be able to see the status of my invite this summer. I wonder if they will shed more daylight on that during Google I/O. I already have Sprint as my carrier so I kind of know what it’s like to have them in my area.

    1. I expect it on the rear of the device or on screen hopefully. I don’t see Google pushing on screen buttons, and then adding another button.

    2. Right where that Motorola emblem is

  2. It’ll be interesting to see how this is implemented

  3. Yes, but will it bring “stuff doesn’t crash left and right and leak memory like crazy” support? Because I think I need that more than a gimmicky fingerprint scanner.

    1. Remember, new is easy. Right is hard :)

  4. My favorite news to come out of MWC this year was Qualcomm’s new fingerprint sensor that is more accurate than Apple’s and was supposed to start hitting devices this year. Built-in Google support could make this a truly killer feature!

  5. It’d be nice if this year’s Nexus had a fingerprint scanner built into the front panel’s bottom bezel. Although I returned it after a few days, I loved being able to log into my password manager app by simply using the S6’s fingerprint scanner. No more PINs or pattern-swiping is always welcome in my book.

    1. Why did you return it? What did you replace it with?

      1. In short, it’s just the “vanilla Android enthusiast” in me. Plus, I wanted to give something new a shot. (I can’t stand Samsung phones but they knocked the S6 outta the park this year. It’ll be tough to top for this year’s remaining upcoming devices, in my opinion.) It’s a great device: gorgeous screen, fingerprint scanner tech, etc. And while TouchWiz is scaled back, it’s still cartoonish, ugly, and atrocious to me. And using other launchers (including Google’s) rendered the fingerprint scanner unusable for certain apps. Then, I had to disable close to 30 apps I was never going to use, had to delete close to 15 others… blah blah blah. I went back to the Moto X (1st Gen) and luckily it’ll be getting 5.1 soonish.

  6. I almost got he nexus 6 but didnt. Why? While i love ‘pure andorid’, googles app are too basic when it comes to certain things. Notably the camera app. The 6 and lollipop now support amazing new camera APIs that the native app doesnt use! I cant even do something as basic and useful as Burst Shot at my nephews baseball games.

    Even if they include the API..and even if the next Nexus has a scanner….it will be so basic that the only thing it will probably do is just be another option in the Lockscreen settings to unlock your phone. They wont do anything practical and useful, like password entry in chrome, payments via wallet, etc..

    The sad truth is nexus phones are really not meant for ‘consumers’..though they sell them to us. They are nothing more then a showcase for OEMS.. “see what you can do with this new version of android”..”see how smooth android can run without OEM skins..” “see how you can build a good phone at a decent price”…etc..examples to the OEMs.

    All this news means is that OEMs dont have to build their own system for their phones (g5, s7, One M10, etc..)

    1. I’m not a developer but an android enthusiast and consumer. For me the Nexus is superior because for me android is all about customization. Pure android is the perfect and smoothest base to do that on. All additional features I can download in the form of an app or install a custom room or get xposed. Nexus is the best phone for anyone who wants to play with the software. Most of us (nexus users) are not developers but consumers who like to play and like the freedom to play the Nexus represents. Besides, time without a nexus gives me some serious abstinence waiting for the newest version of our beloved platform.

      I’ve never really missed anything owning a nexus despite oems offering additional features. Nexus has that simplicity and update cycle iPhone users are always bashing us for not having with the freedom of full pure android straight from Google! Doesn’t get better than that IMHO.

  7. I remember reading a few months back about some technology that allowed the screen itself to recognize fingerprints, as opposed to a hardware button.

  8. Don’t need that, we need more privacy in apps permission detail. Like IOS, we can give the permission at the apps or not… this is what we need.

    1. Cyageonmod has had it for years. Just root. For the common person, they don’t mind as much.

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