When Apple presented its first MacBooks specially designed for Apple Silicon, those interested immediately noticed a special feature: For the first time, they had a notch in the upper area of the screen, which was previously only known from the iPhone. The thought was that Apple could also have Face ID facial recognition in this area. However, that was not the case: Only the FaceTime HD camera is in here, the biometric authentication on MacBook Pro and MacBook Air is still done via Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
Hope from the US Patent and Trademark Office
However, a patent application from Apple that has just been approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office gives rise to slight hope that Face ID in the Mac is not (yet) finally buried: It describes a “laptop computer” with a corresponding function. Interestingly, the idea was first patented five years ago – at a time when Face ID was only very briefly available in the iPhone.
Patent 11727718 describes a “biometric authentication module for authenticating a user of a portable computing device” – in particular with regard to a light pattern recognition module which is said to be able to “direct a predetermined light pattern onto the user and then direct a user to capture reflected light patterns to authenticate the user”. This is exactly how Face ID works in iPhone and iPad Pro. Apple had previously been granted another Face ID patent.
Image shows Face ID in the MacBook notch
An illustration as part of the patent application shows a MacBook in which the face ID sensor is supposed to be in the place of the camera notch. Another shot is an iMac, which also has a facial recognition module in the camera area – also in a notch way. Alternatively, Apple is considering integrating the sensor in the area of the touch bar, which is missing from Apple’s silicon top models and is only present on the MacBook 13.
The question remains why Apple has not yet implemented Face ID for the Mac. One possible explanation for MacBook is that the display is simply too thin to accommodate the various facial recognition components, including an infrared dot projector. That could be the reason why the Touch Bar is mentioned as an alternative installation location. On the other hand, Apple also manages to integrate Face ID into the iPad Pro. Most recently, an Apple manager said in an interview in 2021 that Face ID in the Mac was considered less interesting because Touch ID was more convenient.
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