Face ID for Mac takes a step closer

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Apple shows what a MacBook with Face ID would look like.
An Apple patent filing shows a MacBook with Face ID.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Evidence emerged today that Apple‘s facial-recognition system will be built into future Macs. Face ID is already a highlight of iPhone and iPad, and there’s solid proof the company is looking into adding it to MacBook and iMac as well.

In September of last year, the Mac maker filed a patent application for a “Light Recognition Module for Determining a User of a Computing Device.” That’s a technical way of describing Face ID. The US Patent and Trademark Office published this application today.

Apple states is this filing that its application describes “a light pattern recognition module that is capable of emitting a predetermined pattern of light at the user, and subsequently detecting a pattern of light that is reflected by the user for authenticating the user.” Again, that’s exactly how Face ID works on iPhone and iPad.

To remove any remaining doubt, the patent filing shows a MacBook with an iPhone-like screen cutout that makes room for the various sensors needed by Face ID.

That said, this patent application proves Apple is considering adding Face ID to it Mac laptops. It’s not proof that the feature is definitely coming. This company regularly patents ideas that never get turned into shipping products.

Is Face ID for Mac right on schedule?

Some might think that if Apple plans to add Face ID to Macs it would have done so already. This biometric security system debuted on the iPhone X, and since then it’s become standard in all iOS handsets. It’s also part of the iPad Pro line. But not a single Mac.

But the timeline for Touch ID’s introduction might reveal Apple’s strategy for Face ID. Apple introduced its fingerprint-recognition system in 2013’s iPhone 5S. Touch ID then made the jump to macOS three years later, in the MacBook Pro released in 2016. It’s since become widely available in Mac models.

Consider that Apple’s facial-recognition system Face ID debuted in the iPhone X in 2017. If a Mac launches in 2020 with this feature, it will again have taken three years for a new biometric security system to expand from iPhone to Mac.

Don’t miss Cult of Mac’s editorial on why Face ID for MacBooks is long overdue.