Android 12 DP2 hints at a future Pixel device with an under-display fingerprint scanner
Google is responsible for both maintaining Android and making new Pixel phones, so it’s sometimes hard to tell when a new Android feature also means a new Pixel feature. Just because Android adds support for new hardware doesn’t always mean that a future Pixel phone will actually ship with that hardware, though that doesn’t mean this never happens. The return of wireless charging on Pixel phones and the existence of a Google-made wireless charging dock, for instance, first leaked through Android code. Now, we’ve spotted evidence in Android 12 that suggests a future Pixel device may finally add an under-display fingerprint scanner.
Earlier today, Google published the second Developer Preview of Android 12. Within the code, developer kdrag0n spotted several new classes in the SystemUIGoogle app. One of these classes is called “UdfpsControllerGoogle”, where “Udfps” refers to “under-display fingerprint scanner.”
Now, the SystemUIGoogle app from the first Android 12 Developer Preview also added several classes related to under-display fingerprint readers, but we thought nothing of it at the time because there wasn’t any evidence suggesting the code wasn’t just for generic Udfps support in AOSP, the open-source version of Android. Many custom ROM developers will tell you that AOSP’s lack of under-display fingerprint scanner support has caused a lot of headaches, so it was about time for Google to add proper support. However, these new Udfps classes are part of the com.google.android.systemui path rather than com.android.systemui, suggesting that these classes are being developed for Pixel phones rather than AOSP. This isn’t definitive evidence that a future Pixel phone will have an under-display fingerprint scanner, but based on our experience learning about new Pixel features this way, we feel confident enough to now raise this as a possibility.
While Google would be late to adopt an under-display fingerprint scanner in a Pixel phone, the timing makes sense. Optical under-display fingerprint scanners have been around for years, but the quality of these modules has increased a lot since they were first introduced. They still aren’t as secure as physical capacitive fingerprint scanners or hardware-based facial authentication, but they allow for a sleeker design when compared to the former and cost a lot less when compared to the latter. The biggest question that we have is: If Google is putting an under-display fingerprint scanner in a future Pixel phone, will it be an optical or ultrasonic sensor?
Lastly, Google is also set to introduce a new “swipe for notifications” gesture in Android 12, which is a replacement for the old “swipe fingerprint for notifications” gesture on Pixel phones that have a fingerprint scanner. Since under-display fingerprint scanners can’t be used for fingerprint swipe gestures, the new “swipe for notifications” gesture will provide a nice complement to the new fingerprint hardware.
Thanks to PNF Software for providing us a license to use JEB Decompiler, a professional-grade reverse engineering tool for Android applications.
Featured image: the optical under-display fingerprint scanner of the OnePlus 7T Pro.