macOS Big Sur beta hints at Face ID for Mac

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Face ID on MacBook
Face ID on a MacBook could be a better fit than it is for iPhone or iPad.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

New evidence indicates that Apple will bring its Face ID biometric security system to Macs. The latest beta of macOS Big Sur reportedly contains code related to facial recognition.

Back when Apple was first developing Face ID for the iPhone X, the internal code name for the project emerged: PearlCamera.

And now, references to PearlCamera have been found buried in the code for macOS Big Sur developer beta 3, which Apple released Wednesday. The code also includes mentions of “FaceDetect” and “BioCapture,” according to 9to5Mac.

This could indicate that Apple intends to introduce Macs with this biometric security system after the release of Big Sur. The final version of the software should arrive this autumn. And there’s little point in adding this code now if it won’t be used before the next major version debuts in 2021.

Of course, facial recognition would require the macOS device to include a TrueDepth camera. This hardware system consists of two cameras (one infrared), sensors for light and proximity, a dot projector and a flood illuminator.

Face ID for Mac: A long time coming

This isn’t the first evidence that Apple is prepping Face ID for Mac. In September 2019, the company 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.

Besides, this facial-recognition system is already a highlight of iPhone and iPad. So it’s not a stretch to think that the tech will come to MacBooks and iMacs.

Better than Touch ID

Apple builds a Touch ID fingerprint scanner into some MacBooks. But Face ID is more secure. According to Apple, there’s a 1 in 50,000 chance a random person could unlock your device with Touch ID. But there’s only a 1 in a million chance they could unlock your computer with Face ID.