Why Face ID for MacBooks is long overdue [Opinion]

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Face ID on MacBook
Face ID on a MacBook is an even better fit than with iPhone or iPad.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Apple’s facial-recognition system debuted on the iPhone and later expanded to the iPad. It’s high time Apple brought Face ID to the MacBook line, too.

There are people who aren‘t fans of Face ID because they’ve only used it on on iPhone. Don’t fall into that trap. It’s genuinely a better fit for the iPad and even more suited for a MacBook.

Face ID vs. iPhone

Face ID works brilliantly, but the device it’s installed on has to be pointed directly at the user. Some iPhone users don’t like it because there are times when their device isn’t facing straight at them.

Consider just one example: when their handset is sitting on a desk, people want to be able to glance over and check their messages. But thanks to Face ID they have to pick up the iPhone and point it toward their face to unlock it. It’s an irritating hassle.

Here’s the important part: this problem really only happens with the iPhone. The handset sometimes isn’t right in front the user because it’s acting as a secondary computer. That’s rare for an iPad Pro and almost unheard of for a MacBook.

Laptops and Face ID: A match made in heaven

One way to use an iOS tablet is to hold it between the hands. With the screen in landscape mode, it’s easy for the user to accidentally block the Face ID scanners. That’s a minor drawback, fixed with the twitch of the fingers.

And the other way to use an iPad Pro is with a clip-on keyboard attached so the two become a laptop. This is where Face ID really shines.

A laptop’s screen is always pointed toward the user so Apple’s facial recognition system is constantly available. It’s so easy the user can forget it’s happening. Unlocking an iPad Pro with Face ID essentially involves just turning it on. The part where the computer scans the user’s face to unlock the device requires absolutely no interaction.

MacBooks need that kind of convenience, too. This is exactly the sort of “It just works” feature that causes people to get a Mac in the first place. Face ID makes signing into websites and apps nearly instantaneous. The same goes for approving the use of a credit card.

While Apple added Touch ID to recent macOS laptops, this isn’t quite as convenient. And that‘s not the only reason to move to Face ID: Apple says that its facial recognition system is 20 times more secure than its fingerprint one.

Also, the sensors would enable Animoji and Memoji to be used on MacBooks, too. These are silly but it’s line laptop users were able to join in the fun.

This could be the year

This is such a logical step it’s surprising Apple hasn’t made it already. Perhaps the rollout of facial recognition has been happening in phases. It debuted in the iPhone X in 2017, moved to the iPad Pro in 2018, and so 2019 could be the year it reaches the MacBook — the much-rumored 16-inch MacBook Pro expected this fall is an excellent candidate.

So if you’re still thinking of Face ID as this thing that makes your iPhone more of a hassle, you need to move past that. MacBooks are used so differently that this facial recognition system will be a huge boon, not an inconvenience.