Apple has begun to lay the groundwork for bringing its secure Face ID biometric authentication from the iPhone and iPad to the Mac platform. Also, software support for integrating cellular connectivity could be part of the company’s plan to give its loyal Mac following what it wants.
This was mentioned as a side-note in today’s story from Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman. In it, the author predominantly focuses on Apple’s upcoming hardware refreshes like a thinner, lighter MacBook Air with MagSafe and a future, larger MacBook Air with a 15-inch screen.
Face ID and cellular connectivity are only mentioned in passing. It seems pretty clear from the report that these features won’t be necessarily leaping onto the Mac this year.
While Face ID isn’t something that the Mac crowd has been universally lusting after, cellular connectivity has long been cited as an example of how Apple supposedly falls behind competition with the little things like the integrated cellular modem. Apple is rumored to be building its own cellular modem chip, but it’s unclear whether it’ll be ready anytime soon.
Neither feature appears to be coming soon
Here’s the relevant excerpt from the Bloomberg story:
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. To that end, 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 wanting to bring Face ID to the Mac only to postpone the feature’s introduction reeks of supply chain problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 has caused disruptions all around the world, delaying the planned September 2020 iPhone 12 introduction by a month.
Bringing Face ID to the Mac
That said, if Apple has “developed underlying Mac support” for these features—by which Gurman probably means software support in macOS—then it’s legitimately safe to assume that Face ID and integrated cellular connectivity on the Mac are a question of “when”, not “if”.
It’s also interesting to think of all the cool features Face ID will enable on the Mac, like increased biometric security, the convenience of logging in as soon as you open the lid, Animoji, portraiture photography and more. Face ID requires a TrueDepth system that could be built into the notebook bezel. In that case, Apple would be wise to replace the potato camera on its notebooks with something more appropriate for the mobile age.
Rebooting the Mac
As mentioned earlier, Apple is also planning a thinner and lighter MacBook Air with a MagSafe magnetic charger, two USB4 ports and other features. Additional updates are on the horizon as Apple works hard to reboot the Mac line after refreshing the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro and Mac mini last October with the M1, its in-house laptop chip.
Aside from the redesigned MacBook Air with MagSafe and USB4, coming in the second quarter of 2021 or early-2022, other notable updates to the Mac platform this year are rumored to include the first major redesign to the iMac all-in-one desktop in nearly a decade.
Apple is also working on cheaper monitors and a half-sized Mac Pro model. The company is obviously aware that the current $6,000 Mac Pro and the $5,000 Pro Display XDR are too expensive for its regular power users. Not everyone who considers themselves a power user needs to edit 8K video for a living and do so on a remarkably precise reference monitor. Most of the people who consider themselves power users just need a computer that’s more accessible, open and powerful than the iMac while preferably costing less than the Mac Pro.