Ever looked at that notch on your new MacBook Pro or MacBook Air and thought “why hasn’t Apple put Face ID in there?” Well, thanks to this newly approved patent, we may not be asking that question anymore.
Spotted by Patently Apple, another big patent for Face ID in the Mac just got granted, and it may be the one that opens the company up to start rolling out this super secure authentication method across all its systems.
Making use of that notch
This approved patent is more of a confirmation of many filed applications over the past few years, rather than one big new thing that’s come out of nowhere. This face verification technology patent goes way back to 2008, which goes to show just how early Apple was planning for it.
Fast forward to March 2020, and we got the first signs of what Face ID on a Mac would look like, as a clearer patent application was published. It showed everything you expect from this secure module, such as a “light pattern recognition module” (translation: infrared sensor and dot projector), being packed into the notch atop the Mac’s display.
It’s now finally approved, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple moves fast on it. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman may have been on the money when he said to expect this tech coming to MacBooks in “a couple of years,” back in 2021.
But not only could it be used for user authentication to access the mac, the patent also specifies email logins too. Plus, as we’ve seen with Face ID on the iPhone, you can assume it’ll be used for login verification across all your different apps, data encryption, differentiating different users for individual logins, and the dreaded memoji.
On top of that, it's good news for pirates, as the Face ID verification would also work with users with one eyes or two!
Every day I use my M2 Pro MacBook Pro, I find myself looking at that notch and feeling some frustration that Apple didn’t actually use it for Face ID. Now that the patent is granted, I believe we’ll see it sooner rather than later.
Maybe it’ll come with the M3 MacBook Air or M3 Pro MacBook Pro. Either way, I’m dying to see the company finally make use of this on-screen protrusion. It’s just been a webcam housing for far too long now, and there’s a ton of space for the required sensors to make it work.
Only question now is what would Apple do with the power button/Touch ID sensor? Does it just become an on/off switch, or could the company squeeze an additional function key in there by splitting it in half? Either way, so long as the answer isn’t a return to the Touch Bar, I’m happy.
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Jason brings a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a writer at Laptop Mag. He takes a particular interest in writing articles and creating videos about laptops, headphones and games. He has previously written for Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.