Face ID for Mac ‘developed’ by Apple but not coming soon

We’ve long expected Apple to offer Face ID for Mac models, just as it does for the iPhone and iPad Pro. Bloomberg’s report on an upcoming higher-end MacBook Air has a mix of good and bad news on this front.

Another feature some have long wanted for MacBooks is the ability to connect to mobile data directly when Wi-Fi isn’t available. The report says the position is the same for both features: They are coming, but not soon …

Apple has also developed underlying Mac support for both cellular connectivity — the ability for Macs to connect to the internet via smartphone networks — and Face ID, the company’s facial recognition system. But neither feature appears to be coming soon.

‘Soon’ in this context likely means this year.

It goes on to say that Apple has actually delayed Face ID for the iMac.

Face ID had originally been planned to arrive in this year’s iMac redesign, but it’s now unlikely to be included in the first iteration of the new design.

Apple has multiple references to Face ID for Macs in various patents, going back several years.

One potential challenge in bringing Face ID to MacBooks is the depth needed for the dot projector. Both iPhone and iPad have a lot more depth to play with than a MacBook lid. But it’s unclear why that would pose a problem for the iMac unless the company plans to reduce the bezel size to a point where the height also becomes an issue; a notch is not really an option for a Mac screen.

One thing that may help is that Apple has reportedly been able to combine the dot-projector and infrared camera into a single unit. This is expected to reduce the width of the notch in this year’s iPhone lineup, and could perhaps allow Apple to fit the unit into a corner of the display, where component height is not a problem.

As for mobile data support, that likely has more niche appeal. Although some of us would like it for the convenience, many are happy to tether to their iPhone, especially since Apple made it a much more seamless experience, simply selecting it from the Wi-Fi menu-bar icon without the need to do anything at the iPhone end.

Any mobile data support now would of course have to include 5G, and the components for that still remain relatively expensive, so it’s not surprising to me that Apple is holding fire on that for now.

Concept image: Blagovest Dimitrov

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