The Pixel biometric sensor is the perfect illustration that you can't please...

The Pixel biometric sensor is the perfect illustration that you can't please everyone

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Jack Wallen addresses the outrage focused on Google moving the Pixel fingerprint scanner from the rear of the device to the front. How dare they!

Image: sdx15/Shutterstock

Warning: Some of what you’re about to read is said with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

The Pixel 6 release is coming, and the excitement should be as palpable as that of a new iPhone release. But, alas, here in the United States, the Apple phone is the only smartphone people still fanboy/girl over. That shouldn’t be the case, but yet … here we are. 

SEE: Electronic communication policy (TechRepublic Premium)

The thing is, the Pixel 6 is exciting. Not only is it going to put Android 12 on display exactly as it should be seen (which is pretty marvelous), but it’s exactly what a flagship device should do. Fortunately, Google received some much-deserved tough love from the release of the Pixel 5 and the company has learned from its mistakes. Yes, the Pixel 5 was a good phone, but it was underpowered and included a camera that was a bit too long in the tooth to be considered flagship. The sixth iteration of the Pixel will fix the error of Google’s ways. 

The rumored specs include:

  • Display: 6.4-inch FHD+ 90Hz display
  • Chip: Google “Tensor,” Titan M2
  • Biometrics: Under-display fingerprint sensor
  • Cameras: Standard 50MP, Ultrawide 12MP
  • Battery: “All-day” (according to Google)

It’s that fingerprint sensor I want to address. Why? Because I’ve seen users of all types (in many different online forums and comments) expressing their dissatisfaction over Google’s choice to not go back to facial recognition. That, in itself, is ironic, given how many Pixel users were so vociferous about how they hated the facial recognition in the Pixel 4. It just goes to show that you can’t please everyone.

But here we are, on the precipice of the Pixel 6 launch, knowing Google stuck with the fingerprint sensor, only this time they’ve gone with an under-screen version. And, if the rumors are true, they’re going with an optical sensor (which means the use of a camera, which means the sensor will be placement specific).

SEE: How to always take the perfect photo with a Pixel phone (TechRepublic) 

And yet again, users are complaining. 

Argh!

Those complaints clearly state the fingerprint sensor belongs on the back of the device. The back! The back is the only logical location for a fingerprint sensor! Ack!

To that, I ask, but why? What makes the back of the phone the ideal location for a fingerprint sensor? Sure, I get the way that most people hold their devices makes adding the sensor on the back easy access for that precious index finger. Moving the sensor underneath the front glass makes that fingerprint tap a bit awkward. Why? Because … thumbs. Who uses thumbs?

The thing is the index finger isn’t the only digit one can use for biometrics. Remember, you have opposable thumbs. Again with the thumb? Consider this: That thumb is in the perfect location to use as a means to gain access to your device. Grab your Pixel, tap your thumb to the screen, and voila! You’re in. It’s easy and, to call up my good friend logic, you can actually see where you’re placing your thumb on the front of the screen, instead of guessing where to tap that index finger blocked by the pesky phone. So no more guesswork as to where the sensor is.

I would also say this: With the fingerprint sensor on the back of the device, I seem to always accidentally open the Notification Shade. Eventually, I have to disable that feature, because it can get frustrating when you’re trying to read something and your finger swipes the sensor to pull down the shade. Yeah, that’s annoying.

But … but … speed!

OK, OK … I can hear you grumbling about yet another issue. Yes, the back of the phone fingerprint sensor is faster than than the in-screen reader. Or so history has shown us. However, we have yet to actually experience what the Pixel 6 can deliver. This reminds me of how users complained of the speed (or lack thereof) of the facial recognition in the Pixel 4. From my experience, it was almost instantaneous. My wife still uses her Pixel 4, and it continues to immediately unlock as soon as she looks at her device.

SEE: How to enable Extreme Battery Saver on a Pixel (TechRepublic) 

Again, we’ll file this under the “you can’t please everyone” category.

I have yet to be disappointed by Pixel biometrics. But then again, I tend to try to find the positive in everything. Has it been perfect? No. But what has? Nothing, if memory serves me. The Pixel 4 biometrics worked well. The Pixel 5 biometrics worked well. And I would imagine the Pixel 6 biometrics will work equally so. In fact, I’m counting on the in-screen fingerprint reader of the Pixel 6 to perform so well, it’ll silence all of the naysayers.

Personally, I don’t care where the fingerprint sensor is (or if Google opted to return to facial recognition). What I care about most is that the device performs like a flagship phone, brings out the best of Android 12, has a battery that lasts all day and includes a best-in-show camera. That’s what I want, and that’s what I believe we’ll see from Google. 

To those complaining about the change in biometric sensors, I would say give the Pixel 6 a chance. My guess is the performance of the phone will overshadow any disappointment you have with the in-screen fingerprint sensor. Besides, after a day or two of usage, you’ll probably forget you ever felt the rear of the device was the ideal location for the sensor.

Sometimes change can be for the better.

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