Apple could finally bring Face ID to MacBooks

Your Mac will get Face ID
(Image credit: Future)

Windows Hello uses facial recognition to to unlock PCs, and Apple might finally catch up, as Face ID looks like it's finally coming to macOS. Or at least it will if new code in the latest macOS Big Sur beta turns out to be true.

9to5Mac broke the news moments ago with a story where it found code referencing support for something called "PearlCamera." That's the internal codename for Apple's TrueDepth camera and Face ID technology. 

Additionally, the site found references to "FaceDetect" and "BioCapture" code in macOS, which it says "confirms that Apple is preparing macOS to operate with Face ID."

But don't go thinking we're definitely getting Face ID MacBooks this fall. While the transition to Apple Silicon/ARM-based Macs will give Apple a chance to shake up its industrial designs for its laptops, most laptop displays — especially those the MacBook Air and Pro — aren't as thick as the iPhone and iPad Pro, and might make it hard for Apple to add the sensor to its laptops.

Instead, remember that the iMac is also expected to be updated with Apple Silicon/ARM chips this fall, and since that desktop all-in-one is much bigger and thicker, it's a natural fit for Face ID. And since the iMac is also likely to get the Neural Engine component (a Face ID requirement), there seems to be no reason for the iMac that runs on Apple chips to not unlock when its owner sits down in front of it — which sounds so neat. Right now, you'd need the proximity unlock trick of the Apple Watch to get such convenience, but not everyone has an Apple Watch. 

9to5Mac gives us some reason to not bet on Face ID coming this year, saying "the implementation is still in the early stages, so it might take some time before Apple announces a new Mac model with the TrueDepth camera to support Face ID."

Further, iOS and iPadOS apps will work on macOS when Apple Silicon launches, so Face ID makes perfect sense for allowing those programs, especially my password manager 1Password, and any ARKit apps, to operate just as they do on the iPhone and iPad. 

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.