macOS Big Sur beta hints that Face ID for Mac might be coming

Face ID has successfully taken over from Touch ID on iPhones and iPads, now it might do the same on macOS-devices according to some leaked…

macOS Big Sur beta hints that Face ID for Mac might be coming
Photo by Quaritsch Photography / Unsplash

Face ID has successfully taken over from Touch ID on iPhones and iPads, now it might do the same on macOS-devices according to some leaked evidence in Big Sur’s beta.

Biometrical unlocking on our favorite devices isn’t new and while Touch ID was a perfect thing over many years, personally I never want to go back to touch after discovering Face ID for the first time. Exception: The quite freshly-implemented Touch ID in the MacBook-series since 2018 closed the biometrical circle for me so far.

Now, according to some evidence in the latest macOS Big Sur-beta, Face ID could be coming to new Mac-hardware so Apple might now kill two birds with one stone: Getting rid of the low-quality webcams the company uses for many years and equipping the new ones with Face ID. Seems like a win-win-situation, doesn’t it?

According to 9to5Mac, a new extension in Beta 3 of Big Sur refers to support of a „PearlCamera“. Although this may not sound familiar to you, this Apple-codename was once used for the TrueDepth-camera and Face ID in the iPhone X which was the initial kickoff-product for a Touch ID-less iPhone in 2017.

As codelines like „FaceDetect“ or „BioCapture“ were found in this extension, this might be the evidence that Apple is — finally and indeed — preparing macOS to support a Face ID-like authentication and security mechanism similar to the one used in iOS. The people of 9to5Mac investigated this Face ID extension and the result was that it was clearly built for macOS and it’s not some remnant code from Catalyst technology.


However, as there are just some parts of the codes leaked so far from a beta, it might indeed take some time until a final product appears on the stage and maybe Apple might also combine this new camera with one of the upcoming ARM-Macs? There is a lot of speculation in this early stage of code but the direction seems to be clear if you stick to the evidence found in the code.

So far, only the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro-series currently feature biometric authentication through Touch ID integrated into the keyboard. Adding Face ID to the Mac would bring even more convenience to unlocking the computer and it would seemingly also fit perfectly on the iMac which doesn’t have a built-in keyboard and is also overdue for a redesign. Closing Apple’s circle of security here once again, it might also be a good chance to integrate the T2-security chip Touch ID is based upon in a new wireless keyboard. Getting in the line, the Neural Engine which is part of the A-series processors since the introduction of the A11 Bionic chip could reach the Macs, too.

This neural technology is essential to way Face ID works as it analyzes the details of the user’s face through machine learning models in just a trickle of a second, but no Mac has included Neural Engine so far.

How Face ID works on the iPhone — Photo-Credits: Apple

The autumn and winter of 2020 may show what Apple has up in its sleeve as there are plenty of new products rumored and the ARM-switch is casting long shadows already. Catching up the last thoughts, Apple’s new SoCs for the Mac will definitely come with the same Neural Engine which is already integrated into the iPhone and iPad which might be a reason Face ID for Mac hasn’t been released so far although Apple surely might have a drawerful of plans for such a scenario.

Further details haven’t revealed yet, but all this news tend towards a direction where an Apple-keynote could indeed end with an interim „One more thing“-addition, presenting a real new technical revolution for the Apple-roster!