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Face ID on the Mac won’t happen

Posted in Apple

With a probable-but-not-yet-unannounced October Apple event looming, I got to thinking about Face ID on the Mac. I don’t think it’ll be added to the expected new Mac line-up, and may not ever be.

I’ve written about how Apple Watch bypasses Face ID my iPhone when I’m wearing a mask and, more recently, when wearing sunglasses; it also unlocks the Mac. No need to enter passwords or reach for the Touch ID sensor: an unlocked watch does the authentication for you.

In fact, an Apple Watch will do this on any Mac built from mid-2013, so you don’t even need a Touch ID machine to benefit. And it even works with the oldest (‘Series 0’) Apple Watch!

But surely Face ID would make it just as convenient for people without an Apple Watch to unlock their Mac? Well, it’s not quite that simple: Face ID and Touch ID have a fundamental difference.

On my phone, Face ID unlocks it when it recognises me, but when I need to do something like authorise a transaction the phone needs active confirmation to prevent accidental purchases. This is done with two things:

  1. A Face ID check
  2. A double tap of the side button

Currently on the Mac, these two steps are taken care of in one move: laying my finger on the Touch ID sensor.

If Face ID were to be added to the Mac, there would have to be a way to deliberately authorise a transaction, which would probably mean reaching for a button on the keyboard…

Touch ID button feels like the right solution for the Mac, and for a the seamless unlocking experience that Face ID might bring, an Apple Watch does the job.

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