Face ID and the Mac

Face ID is made possible by a whole range of technology that Apple packed into the notch that defines the look of the iPhone X:

Notch Guts

Face ID, like Touch ID before it, stores its information in the device’s Secure Enclave. It is never synced to iCloud servers or included in iOS backups.

Until last year, Touch ID was an iOS-only affair, but that changed with the Touch Bar, which brought a Touch ID sensor to the Mac for the first time.

The Touch Bar is driven by an Apple Watch-like system on a chip which includes the required Secure Enclave.

Almost a year later, Touch ID is still only available on MacBook Pro models with the Touch Bar. It’s not on the MacBook, and hasn’t made an appearance on the external Magic Keyboard.

In June, Apple unveiled the forthcoming iMac Pro. Surprisingly, its custom (and super sexy) Space Gray keyboard does not have a Touch Bar.

However, according to Pike Ralpha, the iMac Pro does include the Secure Enclave:

I piled through the firmware/rubble from the new iMac Pro – to be released in December – and it appears to be coming with a Security Enclave Processor (SEP). You know. Like the one that was added to the MacBook Pro’s with Touch Bar and Touch ID, but this time to (also?) support a new feature called Apple SecureBoot (for the SEP only?).

This post caught my attention when it was published back in June, but I think it could make a lot more sense in light of the iPhone X.

Could the iMac Pro be the first Mac to ship with Face ID?

There’s plenty of room in the bezel above the iMac Pro’s screen for the needed sensors and other hardware. In fact, the iMac Pro will ship with a 1080p FaceTime camera, while the regular iMac ships with a 720p module. Apple engineers need far more than an iSight camera to pull this off, but if they’ve upgraded the camera, maybe they’ve done other work behind that black cover glass.

(Don’t forget, Apple is building a display to go with the next Mac Pro, as well…)

That said, I’m not sure Face ID could come to the MacBooks and MacBook Pros any time soon. There is plenty of room above the screen, but those lids are really thin. I doubt Apple could squeeze all the needed hardware in there quite yet.

I think it’d be amazing to sit down at my Mac and have it log in to my user account automatically. I love Touch ID on my MacBook Pro; it has already made entering a password on my iMac feel old-fashioned. However, now even it feels a little dated in our iPhone X world.

I think a lot of people want Touch ID on the Mac without the Touch Bar. Face ID could deliver the same benefits without the baggage of the Touch Bar. I, for one, would love to see biometric authentication come to Macs without it.