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Google Tells Pixel 6 Users That Slow Fingerprint Sensor Is For Safety

Many Pixel 6 & 6 Pro users have recently complained that the in-display fingerprint sensor employed by Google was quite slow, but the company is now explaining that the scanner is slightly sluggish due to enhanced security. The Pixel 6 series marks the first time Google has opted for an in-display fingerprint scanning solution after ditching the trusty rear-mounted physical fingerprint scanner and the finicky Soli-radar sensor last seen on the Pixel 4 duo.

Optical in-display fingerprint sensors are known to be slower than the physical sensors that companies often put on the rear panel or integrate inside the power button. Over the past couple of years, Qualcomm has significantly refined its ultrasonic fingerprint sensors, and they offer a blazing-fast experience on phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S21 series. But it appears that going with a 'slower' optical fingerprint sensor is not the only reason why it feels plodding on Google's latest phones.

Related: Google Pixel 6 Pro Review: The Best Pixel There's Ever Been

The Official Made By Google account replied to a Pixel 6 user's complaint about the sluggish and unreliable fingerprint scanning experience by tweeting that the enhanced security algorithms driving the fingerprint sensor are to blame here. "In some instances, these added protections can take longer to verify or require more direct contact with the sensor," the company added. In simple words, Google wants buyers to believe that the laggard nature of the Pixel 6 series' fingerprint sensor is not actually a bug, but it's a security feature. Apple recently pulled something similar out of its 'weird explanations kitty' when it told iPad mini 6 users that the jelly-scrolling issue they are seeing is actually normal for an LCD panel.

In the case of the Pixel 6 series and its slow in-display fingerprint sensor, Google doesn't say whether it will eventually speed up the authentication process with an update in the foreseeable future. When in-display fingerprint sensors first started trickling down from flagships to affordable phones, smartphone brands explained that the in-display fingerprint sensor might be slow initially, but as it learns over time, the authentication process picks up pace. In a similar vein, Google has often hinted that the Pixel phones learn from user behavior. Going by that logic, one might be optimistic that with an in-house Tensor chip packing some impressive AI and ML chops, the fingerprint sensor might improve over time. Meanwhile, Reddit and Twitter are teeming with annoyed users who aren't too happy about the issue, especially those who forked out $900 or more for the Pixel 6 Pro.

Google also redirected the 'affected' Pixel 6 and 6 Pro users to its support page, where the company details some troubleshooting solutions related to fingerprint sensors. For example, the support page mentions that if the scanner fails to recognize fingerprints under "bright, outdoor sunlight," users should cover the area above the sensor and press firmly. The company also notes that third-party screen protectors might cause the in-display fingerprint sensor to malfunction and advises users to buy Made for Google certified protective solutions from brands such as Zagg, Otterbox, and Panzerglass. Oddly, the support page mentions that dry fingers might affect fingerprint sensing performance, so users should moisturize their fingers. And of course, Google also tells users to keep the area above the sensor free from dirt or smudges for best results. Unfortunately, the Pixel 6 duo doesn't support Face Unlock either, so users are essentially stuck with the extra-secure-but-slow in-display fingerprint sensor on their phone.

Next: Could Teeth Replace Face & Fingerprint Unlock In The Future?

Source: Made By Google / Twitter, Reddit, Google Support

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