Allow me to assume that you’ve tried Apple’s Face ID facial recognition system on a new iPhone or iPad Pro. In short, it works; it works very well. Face ID is fast and convenient and about as secure as any biometric system can be.
Apple has Face ID working well on iPhone, now in its second year, and the new iPad Pro line. Complaints from customers are few, other issues seem minor, so one can easily ask the obvious question. Where is Face ID on the Mac?
No. More. Macs.
A few weeks ago I wrote about my oldest and longest running Mac; a PowerPC Mac mini that chimes up every day and has done it since 2005– 14 years ago. That Mac is so old nothing can be upgraded and when it dies, I’ll bury it in the backyard or put it on eBay because it isn’t good for much now, and it will be less when it’s dead.
Still, we buy our Macs on a scheduled basis so they last, on average, about five to six years before they become hand-me-down items for relatives a nearby neighborhood families. We’re in the market for a new Mac now but won’t buy one until…
…Apple puts Face ID on a Mac.
We don’t even mind if Face ID skips over the MacBook Air. Something needs to segregate the line and Touch ID (near the keyboard) vs. Face ID (instantly from the sensor array above the display) is fine with me.
We won’t buy another Mac until we can get one with Face ID. That’s the future and it’s already here on iPhone and iPad.
What can one expect with future Face ID versions?
The only negative with Face ID on iPhone is the raise to unlock option. It’s not there. With Touch ID I could raise the iPhone and simultaneously touch the Home button to unlock. Now it requires two hands– one to hold iPhone, and the other to swipe up on the screen to unlock. Yes, it’s fast, but it’s extra steps and Apple is good at eliminating such friction.
That’s why I expect future Face ID versions to automatically unlock when we lift up iPhone to a specific angle as if we’re ready to unlock the device, but have it unlock itself first– all based upon Face ID’s facial recognition of our intent.
Back to the Mac.
Apple has a few new patents that point to Face ID on the Mac with the built-in capability to see who is sitting in front of the Mac, and then automatically log on.
Here’s the USPTO legal mumbo jumbo:
One embodiment may take the form of a method of operating a computing device in a reduced power state and collecting a first set of data from at least one sensor. Based on the first set of data, the computing device determines a probability that an object is within a threshold distance of the computing device and, if so, the device activates at least one secondary sensor to collect a second set of data. Based on the second set of data, the device determines if the object is a person. If it is a person, a position of the person relative to the computing device is determined and the computing device changes its state based on the position of the person. If the object is not a person, the computing device remains in a reduced power state.
In simpler terms, Face ID will check who’s in front of the sensor array and unlock iPhone– and, presumably, iPad and Mac– automatically, and without user intervention to screen or keyboard.
That’s what I want. I won’t buy another Mac until Face ID arrives.