Your next MacBook could get a new camera, but not where you expect

MacBook Air 2022
(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / iMore)

A German patent appears to show a MacBook with a rear-mounted camera, perhaps mounted by magnets, that would also include support for Face ID. The patent also suggests that the camera could be extremely capable, perhaps offering similar features to those used in Apple's best iPhones.

While Macs have long had cameras on the front for video calls and other relatively simplistic uses, adding a camera to the back of a device would be a first for Apple's notebook lineup.

Cameras everywhere

Multiple images found in a patent discovered by Patently Apple show a number of configurations for a new back camera, including some that are built into the lid and others that would attach via magnets.

Most notable is the suggestion that iPhone 14 Pro-like cameras could be used, while there is also provision for LiDAR scanners and facial recognition systems. That could potentially open the door to Face ID being added to future Macs. With that in mind, a future Mac could potentially remain closed until a Face ID challenge has been satisfied. As the report notes, that would be an industry first and increase security for those using Apple's notebooks.

It's worth pointing out that this patent also shows the front camera notch that is currently employed by Apple's MacBook Air and 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro, suggesting at least part of it is based in reality. That's important considering the fact that Apple patents almost everything its engineers design — and patents don't necessarily mean future products and features.

How useful a rear-facing camera on a MacBook would be is a matter for debate, although the potential Face ID wrinkle does make things more interesting. If Apple can't build Face ID into the MacBook's screen for whatever reason, attaching it to the back could be the next best thing.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.