Apple just received a patent that covers building Face ID into a MacBook. The facial-recognition system is not a feature of any Mac … yet. But the new patent serves as evidence that Apple is still at least considering the idea of replacing Touch ID with Face ID in its notebook line.
Face ID for MacBook could still happen
Face ID debuted on the iPhone X in 2017, and since then it’s become standard in all high-end iOS handsets. It’s also part of the iPad Pro line, but not a single Mac laptop or desktop.
That’s still a possibility, though. Back in 2019, Apple filed for a patent on a “Light Recognition Module for Determining a User of a Computing Device.” This is clearly meant to cover Face ID for MacBooks. On Wednesday, it received approval for that patent.
Apple’s new patent covers “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.” That’s exactly how Face ID works on iPhone and iPad.
This patent proves Apple investigated adding Face ID to Mac laptops. But it’s not proof that the feature is definitely coming. The company regularly patents ideas that never show up in shipping products.
So where is Face ID for Mac?
The 2021 MacBook Pro came with a controversial feature: a screen cutout. The iPhone got its own screen cutout (aka the notch) at the same time as Face ID support was added, but the notebook did not get the biometric security system. The 2023 update to the MacBook Pro also still depends on Touch ID.
Given that all the components are there, it’s not clear why macOS notebooks don’t have facial recognition, especially as Apple points out that Face ID is 20 times safer than Touch ID. Perhaps the screen section of MacBooks is too thin for the necessary facial scanners.