I’ll be the first to say it: we’ve missed in the past concerning fingerprint scanners on Chromebooks. The underlying groundwork has been added to many boards over the course of the past couple years, but we’ve yet to actually see a piece of hardware equipping the biometric system.
Why? I honestly have no idea. We were pretty convinced that the Pixelbook would come with a fingerprint reader, but alas we showed up in California only to be let down by its absence. We have seen the fingerprint references on the Samsung Chromebook Plus and Pro as well, but clearly those devices never got the fingerprint treatment, either.
So, what’s going on, then? We asked the fine folks behind the Pixelbook why it didn’t have a fingerprint sensor at launch and they said they couldn’t get it working like they wanted, so they left it off. So, it was clear they were working on this whole endeavor, but they couldn’t land the plane by last October.
This Year We’ll See It
One thing in common across all the old commits we saw regarding the fingerprint scanner was the overall vagueness of each one. Sure, we were able to identify the actual scanner hardware, but that was about as precise as it all got. We didn’t see much in the way of software around the whole fingerprint scanning process.
That isn’t the case this time around.
With this commit, we can clearly see devs working on fingerprint scanning for multiple fingers and how to implement that on the software setup side of things. If they were still just getting the basics and kinks worked out, there would be no need for this front-facing UI/setup element to be worked on.
But quite sure that isn’t the case this time around. Check out the language contained in the commit:
biod: Add UMA metrics for FPS
Use the “metrics” library to add relevant UMA metrics to biod.
Fingerprint.Unlock.NumberEnrolledFingers reports the number of fingers
enrolled on login.
If you are simply trying to get a fingerprint scanner to work, you wouldn’t be worried about multiple fingerprints being enrolled and how that would work. You’d simply be making sure a single fingerprint can trigger the unlock.
When we first started seeing fingerprint scanning enabled for ‘Nocturne’, I was skeptical. My tune is changing, however, and I fully believe we’ll finally see a Chrome OS device that can allow a user to log in with just a fingerprint.
It’s been a long time coming and a feature Chromebooks have needed for quite some time. I’m excited that time is coming to an end soon.