Last year, Apple brought Touch ID to the MacBook Air for the first time. Previously, the fingerprint-reading tool was only available on Mac with the MacBook Pro. This year, Face ID could make its macOS debut. However, instead of MacBooks, new iMacs will probably be where the authentication tool found on mobile drops first on macOS.
Face ID, which first launched on the iPhone X in 2017, requires a front-facing TrueDepth camera. This limitation is why Face ID, Animoji, and Memoji have yet to arrive on Apple's less expensive mobile devices and MacBooks, which have had the same tired 720p FaceTime HD camera for nearly a decade.
The existing iMac lineup also doesn't support Face ID, Animoji, and Memoji. However, multiple rumors ahead of next week's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) suggest changes are on the way that will be revealed next week.
Just last week, Apple leaker Sonny Dickson said Apple's likely to launch a new iMac with an iPad Pro + Magic Keyboard-like design. Today, newly discovered code suggests Face ID is coming to macOS. Put together, and you can see why it's likely iMac will become the first Mac to come with a TrueDepth camera.
There are two iMac product lines, which makes it somewhat challenging to predict which one will get the hardware update first. The $5,000+ iMac Pro hasn't been updated since December 2017, and any hardware update would almost surely include a TrueDepth camera.
The more popular iMac lineup hasn't received an update since March 2019, so it makes less sense here. And yet, an April rumor said Apple's planning on replacing the 21.5-inch iMac with a 23-inch model. If correct, its release could be the perfect time to bring Face ID to Mac.
To cover all bases, I think any significant iMac update will include a TrueDepth camera and, therefore, Face ID, Animoji, and Memoji. With the introduction of the third-generation Mac Pro last year, I'm less inclined to believe there will ever be a new iMac Pro launched. The news of a possible 23-inch iMac model has only hardened this belief.
And yet, if the rumor about a significant iMac design change rings true (and it's one based on the look of the iPad Pro), it would make oh-so-much sense that the move would be limited to a new iMac Pro.
One other point worth mentioning is the current state of iMac cameras. Even at nearly three years old, the iMac Pro has a 1080p FaceTime HD camera. By contrast, the regular iMac still has the 720p FaceTime HD camera that's also found on the current MacBooks.
What about MacBooks?
When it comes to Face ID coming to the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, everything depends on Apple removing that dated camera and replacing it with a TrueDepth camera. With both laptop's current thin design, it might not be physically possible to put this type of camera at the center-top of the display. Instead, Apple might have no choice but to place it on the hinge. Regardless, when the TrueDepth camera does come to MacBook, I would expect it to arrive first on the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
We should hear more about Apple's plans for Face ID on Mac very soon. The WWDC keynote address is scheduled for 10 a.m. PDT next Monday, June 22. During that presentation, updated hardware and software will be announced.
In the meantime, what do you think? Are you looking forward to having Face ID on future Macs? Let us know below.
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Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.