Google wanted to include a Touch ID-like fingerprint sensor on the Nexus 6 smartphone, but had to abandon that plan thanks to Apple's timely purchase of AuthenTec. Apple bought the company to use its fingerprint scanning technology in the iPhone 5S and in the process ensured on one else would be able to use it in their smartphones, including Google.
Touch ID on Nexus 6: Denied
Apple bought AuthenTec in 2012, and at the time there was speculation that the deal was targeted primarily at an authentication system for mobile payments in the iPhone 5S. When the 5S shipped without a mobile payment system to go along with Touch ID, however, it was clear Apple wanted the company's sensor tech.
Former Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside said that same technology should've been in the Android-based Nexus 6 smartphone, but wasn't thanks to the AuthenTec purchase. He said the dimple on the back of the phone's case was designed to hold the sensor. He told The Telegraph,
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.
Without a reliable sensor for the phone, the plan was dropped and the Nexus 6 was left with an out of context dimple on its backside.
Buying AuthenTec set Apple back US$365 million—small change for the iPhone and iPad maker. That little investment has paid off well because Apple has the best fingerprint sensor tech, and they managed to block their competition from getting their hands on it, too.