Google “Evaluating” Firmware Update to Add Fingerprint Gesture Support to Nexus 6P and 5X

Google “Evaluating” Firmware Update to Add Fingerprint Gesture Support to Nexus 6P and 5X

The Google Pixel and the Google Pixel XL have been stealing the show in the latter half of 2016 so far. Google deciding to turn on the heat in the premium smartphone segment certainly surprised many users, as many expected Google to remain closer to the Nexus roots. But the Pixels have proved to be different enough to earn their branding.

There is one thing that is similar in the Google Pixel duo and the Nexus duo released last year — the fingerprint scanner. Specifically, the sensor used in the Pixel and Pixel XL for fingerprint scans is the OneTouch FPC1025, which is the same as the sensor used in the LG Nexus 5X and the Huawei Nexus 6P. While the fingerprint response on all the four phones come very close competitively, there is one key factor which differentiates the Pixel and Pixel XL from the Nexus 6P and the Nexus 5X despite this particular hardware similarity: support for fingerprint gestures.

On the Pixels, a quick swipe down on the rear-placed fingerprint scanner pulls down the notification shade. While it might not seem very groundbreaking (after all, the Huawei Honor 5X had it before the Pixel on the same hardware sensor), the Pixel exclusivity of what appears to be a software addition on the surface angered a lot of Nexus users. Perhaps rightfully so, as the Nexus 6P and the Nexus 5X are still under support from Google, and locking them out of features which they would otherwise be capable of seems like the kind of move expected from other OEMs, and not from Google.

Kernel developer at Google for Pixel and Nexus device, Nick Desaulniers, commented on Reddit on the issue:

Bullhead [Nexus 5X] and angler [Nexus 6P] use similar hardware but older versions of firmware that don’t have gesture support. Updating the firmware used and HAL and some other stuff will take some effort. Doable.

Developer Advocate at Google, Ian Lake, spoke to AndroidPolice on the issue, commenting:

Same hardware doesn’t mean same capabilities, alas.

What this meant that although the hardware was the same, the firmware used on the newer Pixels allowed them to build on fingerprint gesture support. But since this was a firmware update and not hardware limitation, this does mean that there is scope of bringing in newer functionality via an upcoming update.

Google did not deny such a possibility. In a statement given to AndroidPolice, Google’s PR machinery commented that Google is evaluating a firmware update for the Nexus 5X and 6P to add support for the fingerprint scanner gestures. To be fair and realistic, they did not confirm that gesture support is coming to the devices either. But their acknowledgement of the issue and keeping an open mind towards bringing it to older hardware gives us hope. Perhaps all is not lost for Nexus, after all.

If you are looking to add fingerprint gestures to your Nexus 6P and the Nexus 5X, but can’t really wait for Google to come to a decision, you can try out Fingerprint Quick Action app to emulate the same functionality on your device.

What are your thoughts on the issue? Would you like to see Fingerprint Sensor Gesture Support being added to Android as a stock feature? Let us know in the comments below!

About author

Aamir Siddiqui
Aamir Siddiqui

I am a tech journalist with XDA since 2015, while being a qualified business-litigation lawyer with experience in the field. A low-end smartphone purchase in 2011 brought me to the forums, and it's been a journey filled with custom ROMs ever since. When not fully dipped in smartphone news, I love traveling to places just to capture pictures of the sun setting. You can reach out to me at [email protected]