Face ID has been a feature of iPhones and some iPads for some time now, so you may have been wondering why there is no Face ID on your Mac or MacBook.
If you were hoping that Apple would add Face ID to the Mac it seems that your wish will soon be granted: There is evidence in the macOS Big Sur beta code that suggests that the TrueDepth camera - which makes Face ID possible - will be coming to the Mac.
Should the TrueDepth camera arrive on the Mac it follows that Macs will gain the ability to be unlocked with Face ID. The feature should also make it possible to automatically log on to different sites and services just by looking at your Mac's screen.
When will I be able to use Face ID on Mac?
As 9to5Mac reports after analysing the latest macOS 11 Big Sur Beta code, there are indications that Apple plans to use the Face ID on future Macs.
9to5Mac claims to have found clues that indicate the presence of the camera systems that enable a 3D scan of the face. That site found reference to a 'PearlCamera' - which was the internal name for the system that was later renamed as the TrueDepth camera. The code also referenced functions such as 'FaceDetect' and 'BioCapture'.
While there are aspects of the code that are identical to iOS, it is clearly programmed for macOS rather than being a case of direct copy-and-paste from iOS via Catalyst. This suggests that the presence of Face ID is not a coincidence or accident.
However, there are some limitations - it doesn't look like Face ID will be possible on an Intel-based Mac. Rather, the evidence seems to suggest that the first MacBooks with Apple Silicon will offer Face ID. The first Macs with Silicon processors are expected to launch in October 2020.
Face ID is one of the new features that the move to Apple Silicon will make possible. The neural engine element of the processor present in iPhones and iPads from the A11 onwards is essential for facial recognition.
On the current range of Intel Macs the ARM-based T2 co-processor does the fingerprint recognition.
This wasn’t the first claim that future Macs will support Face ID though. The in mid-June Twitter user @blue_kanikama tweeted about the discovery of a system file that gave evidence of support for Face ID in macOS and even tvOS. Those tweets have since been deleted though.
Prior to that, in March 2020, details of an Apple patent application that seemed to show Face ID on a Mac were published. That patent application was actually filed in September 2019 and is named: "Light Recognition Module for Determining a User of a Computing Device."
Will this improve the FaceTime camera?
Hopefully if the TrueDepth camera arrives on Macs we will also see improved FaceTime cameras, which currently suffer from disappointing resolutions.
If you have been wondering why your FaceTime camera is blurry and fuzzy it's because the resolution is so poor. Something we have been calling for Apple to improve.
What is Face ID?
The TrueDepth camera brought Face ID to the iPhone X in 2017. According to Apple, Face ID is more accurate, faster and more secure than Touch ID (although your device is only as secure as the passcode that can override Face ID or Touch ID).
Some Macs can already be unlocked with a fingerprint using Touch ID, a technology that Apple introduced in 2013 with the iPhone 5S. Touch ID has been available on the MacBook Pro since 2016 and on the MacBook Air since 2018.
Find out about the new Silicon Macs - and how Apple Silicon compares to Intel: