What you need to know

  • Apple was awarded a new patent that aims to add Face ID to the Mac.
  • The patent would analyze to see if a person is in front of the screen and automatically log on.
  • Within the patent were illustrations of how the patent would look on a display.

Apple has been granted a new patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office that suggests Face ID is coming to Macs very soon. The description of the patent reveals the camera will be able to automatically wake up when you come into view of the computer's camera sensor.

Here's the official description for the patent:

One embodiment may take the form of a method of operating a computing device in a reduced power state and collecting a first set of data from at least one sensor. Based on the first set of data, the computing device determines a probability that an object is within a threshold distance of the computing device and, if so, the device activates at least one secondary sensor to collect a second set of data. Based on the second set of data, the device determines if the object is a person. If it is a person, a position of the person relative to the computing device is determined and the computing device changes its state based on the position of the person. If the object is not a person, the computing device remains in a reduced power state.

That's not exactly the explanation of the feature Apple will use in marketing, but it does explain how the feature will work. Basically, it will use the camera to detect users and log them in even when the compute is in a "reduced power state," or in Sleep mode. It'll be very much like how Apple likes to add new features and let them work like magic in the background.

Courtesy of the USPTO

Apple will likely parse out the patent into more consumer friendly lingo once it does incorporate the feature in a "computing device" we believe talks about a Mac given the illustrations Apple inlcuded in the patent filing (see above). The iPhone and the iPad already have Face ID incorporated into them, the only one left is the Mac which gives Apple a lot of wiggle room to revamp and improve the feature.

It may be a while before we see the feature in Macs. For now, Apple is content with having Touch ID fingerprint scanners in its MacBooks, but with a complete redesign expected by the end of this year, introducing Face ID with the usual yearly upgrade could come in a couple of years.