iPhone 6 Touch ID

There has been some talk recently about Apple potentially launching a new way to unlock your Mac with Touch ID in an upcoming OS X release.

For those who are aware, this can be done already with apps from the App Store, such as MacID, but if Apple brings this feature to the native installation of OS X, what will happen to these premium third-party apps?

There still hasn’t been any confirmation that such a feature is guaranteed to come to the Mac, as it’s nothing more than a rumor, and honestly, we probably won’t know for sure until WWDC 2016 passes and Apple announces their new OS X version for the year.

On the other hand, let’s say Apple hypothetically was launching such a feature; how would this affect third-party apps that do similar things?

It should be obvious; people love OEM features more than features they have to download themselves, so it will impact the sales of such apps, but… there’s so much more to it than that.

MacID vs Apple

Although most people are going to say they’ll just start using the OS X and iOS-integrated feature over the third-party iOS app for unlocking their Mac with Touch ID, there are still going to be some things that set third-party apps apart from Apple’s possible upcoming feature.

For example, MacID, which can be had from the App Store for $3.99, has a number of features built into it that haven’t been mentioned in current rumors and that likely wouldn’t be included with one of Apple’s own Touch ID system implementations for Mac computers.

If Apple did let you unlock your Mac with your Touch ID sensor over a Bluetooth connection, and you decided to use it instead of MacID altogether, you’d still be missing out on various features that third-party apps like MacID have to offer, such as:

  • Tap to unlock
  • Proximity-based locking and unlocking
  • Remote sharing of clipboards
  • Toggling screensavers from a distance
  • Using Touch ID for admin password requests
  • Limiting access based on whether you’re connected to power
  • Apple Watch app
  • Pebble support
  • Support for devices that don’t even have Touch ID

And the list goes on…

The list goes to show that even if Apple integrates a Touch ID unlocking feature into their Macs, there are still tons of features to be had from MacID and apps like it.

So what does that mean?

It means that MacID most likely isn’t going anywhere and will still continue to offer a smorgasbord of useful features.

It also means Apple’s implementation of the feature may be limited compared to MacID because the developer is so dedicated to enhancing features based on user requests and making his app do as much as it possibly can, within reason.

Apple on the other hand is going to make things the way they want it to be, and then hand you a retractable baton when you demand more features.

Why do I care?

I’m an avid MacID user, and I’ve long wanted a feature like this on my Mac, but I know Apple better than to trust them with every ounce of my being.

They’re great at hyping up even the simplest features, but when it comes right down to it, their implementation will never come with as many features and as much user configuration as will come from MacID or from a developer who wants to make the best of the best.

Because I use MacID so much, it’s going to be hard to get me to switch. I’m a user who likes the features I’ve become accustomed to. I was the same way when Apple Music came out after Spotify, and I still prefer Spotify to this day because it offers a few more features and customization options.

Overall, Apple’s general focus is to make something that meets criteria for stability and ease of use. Advanced users who want more options to configure are often left in the dark to hope that third-party developers can reach out and fill their needs.

This is the niche that Kane Cheshire’s MacID app, and similar apps like it, are going to fill because it offers a lot more functionality in addition to unlocking your Mac with Touch ID.

Tap to Unlock is one of those features; one that I’d have a hard time living without now that I’ve become so used to using it all the time.

Wrapping up

Touch ID is a great feature, and I think Apple has only begun to take advantage of its potential.

Touch ID could be extended from iOS devices to the rest of your devices by Apple themselves at some point, but you will still want to consider what other features third-party services can bring to the table to ensure you get the best user experience.

For Kane, the developer of MacID, it’s not the end of the world for his app, and he still plans to continue to support it with new features even if Apple did bring such a feature to the Mac out of the box.

If Apple were to bring Touch ID unlocking to the Mac in a future OS X release, would you still use other features provided by third-party apps like MacID? Share in the comments!