No Face ID in MacBook Pro is a missed opportunity | Cult of Mac

No Face ID in MacBook Pro is a missed opportunity

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No Face ID in MacBook Pro is a missed opportunity
There’d be far fewer complaints about the MacBook Pro notch if it included Face ID.
Graphic: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Saying the 2021 MacBook Pro’s screen notch is controversial is putting it mildly. But Apple could have made it easier to bear. Building in Face ID would have better justified the display cutout — and also made the newest macOS notebooks easier to use.

Apple execs recently revealed why the MacBook Pro utilizes Touch ID instead of Face ID. And the reason is not convincing. The facial-recognition system is a better fit for MacBook than it is for any other Apple product — including ones it’s already built into.

The notch has a purpose

It’s not hard to find criticism of the MacBook Pro notch, but the cutout is there for a reason. It allows Apple to reduce the devices’ screen bezels while still leaving room for a high-resolution front-facing camera. On the 2021 MacBook Pro, the top bezel is up to 60% thinner while the camera jumped to 1080p resolution, significantly improving video calls.

The situation is somewhat similar with iPhone. Its screen cutout gives the handset a nearly edge-to-edge display. But the iPhone notch is more tolerable because it makes room for both a camera and the Face ID scanners. People would be less critical of the MacBook Pro notch if it did the same.

MacBook Pro needs Face ID

Face ID debuted in 2017’s iPhone X and has been part of every top-tier Apple handset since. The facial-recognition system works well, except that it must 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. Like when it’s lying on a desk. This forces them to pick up the iPhone to unlock it to, say, read an incoming text.

iPad Pros also utilize Face ID. If you attach a keyboard case to the tablet, you can easily demonstrate how convenient facial recognition can be with a laptop. The screen is always pointed toward the user, so Face ID is constantly available. It’s so easy, an iPad Pro 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.

The same would be true with a MacBook. True, the current system of putting a finger on the Touch ID sensor isn’t onerous, but there’s no reason to make people jump through that hoop when Apple already has a better option.

Face ID vs. Touch ID

Tom Boger, head of Mac and iPad marketing, was recently asked in a Wall Street Journal interview why the 2021 MacBook Pro doesn’t have facial recognition. “Boger said Touch ID is more convenient on a laptop since your hands are already on the keyboard,” according to the article.

That’s a weak argument. People are also generally holding their iPhone or iPad Pro when they’re using them, and these devices have Face ID.

Plus, Apple emphasizes that its facial recognition system is 20 times more secure than its fingerprint one.

Fingers crossed for the 2022 MacBook Pro

There’s a lot to like in the new MacBook Pro. It’s amazingly fast, brings back MagSafe and includes a beautiful display. But the notch is … less than ideal.

Apple could have prevented so much criticism by including Face ID. This redesigned model would have been the perfect place for Face ID to make the jump to Mac.

But there’s always hope for the 2022 MacBook Pro.