When I first saw the notch, like many, I assumed it would have Face ID. The answer turned out to be ‘no’ – the laptop uses a boring old touch ID instead. The unnecessarily large cutout is arguably at least in part a branding decision, especially with rumors circulating that the upcoming MacBook Air will also have a notch.
Still, I had assumed that an implementation of Face ID was only a matter of time, given the size of the notch and the fact that Face ID is simply the most convenient technology. But if you ask Apple, at least the reason they switched to Touch ID was quite different.
Joanna Stern interviewed a few Apple executives for her review of the MacBook Pro and was basically told that Touch ID is more convenient on a laptop because… your hands are already on the keyboard.
Lol what? (Apple also suggested there was no reason for a touchscreen MacBook, which is just as silly).
As almost anyone who has used facial recognition on Windows – available on a myriad of devices equipped with Windows Hello – will tell you, facial recognition comes in handy on a laptop. Heck, I would say it’s more useful on a laptop than a phone.
I prefer a fingerprint sensor on my phone because it’s a one-step process; on an iPhone, you always have to swipe up to access your device after unlocking it with FaceID, which never made much sense to me. Face ID also doesn’t work very well when your phone is lying flat on a table.
These aren’t issues on a laptop, and on Windows Hello PCs with facial recognition, the device is usually already unlocked by the time I even sit in front of the laptop. Also, the first thing I usually hit when I’m in front of my PC is not the keyboard, but rather the mouse.
Even ignoring all of this, by Apple’s own logic, Face ID should be at least as practical as Touch ID since your face is already in front of the screen. I know it’s almost Halloween and all, but I don’t think there are any headless people buying the new MacBook Pro.
I realize this is a first world problem, but these are all finicky conveniences we’re talking about here; for many people, any type of biometric authentication is overkill, and a password is fine. So let me help Apple with a more realistic explanation.
The most obvious: Face ID, in its current form, is just too big. You might think that a laptop is a lot bigger than a phone, but the screen cover itself is pretty thin and you don’t have much depth to work with. At the very least, Apple wouldn’t be able to adapt it using the same module in the iPhone 13 Pro; iFixit has shown that these components are just too big, so Apple should make a much smaller Face ID module to fit the MacBook Pro.
Then again, the iMac 2021 doesn’t have a Face ID either, and that really has no reason to avoid Face ID. This brings me to the other obvious explanation: this is a feature that Apple may add in a year or two and market as a reason to upgrade.
Considering all the money that has likely been spent on redesigning the new MacBook Pro and its fancy new chips, it’s also possible that Apple found Face ID to be too expensive to implement just yet. It could very well be that the webcam does not meet Apple’s security standards either (the selfie camera in an iPhone is 12MP versus 2MP for a 1080P camera).
One thing is certain: each of these reasons makes a lot more sense than the fact that your hands are “already on the keyboard”. I’d bet my favorite Face ID socks will eventually hit the laptop, but only when Apple can make more money out of it.