⌘ October 20, 2021

There’s Nothing Simple” About Adding Face ID

(Image: Apple)

You’ve seen the notch in the display of Apple’s amazing new MacBook Pro. Undoubtedly you’ve already formed your opinion about it — how it looks, and whether it is worth the trade-off of a sleeker design. The Verges Chaim Gartenberg wrote a critical piece about its addition sans Face ID, and while I can’t fault him on his opinions, there was a section that ground my gears:

And there have been rumors for years that Apple has been planning to bring back Touch ID to its iPhones in the form of an in-display sensor. But if Apple really is worried about losing some of the convenience of Touch ID, it could simply offer both security options, taking the bold step of actually letting its customers decide which biometric method they’d like to use.

Statements like these frustrate me. I’m not a technical engineer, but I’m positive that there’s nothing simple” about implementing a second biometric authentication system to the Mac. Not to mention that Face ID requires several bits of hardware that have not been put in any device thinner than an iPad Pro so far. As much as I’d love to see Face ID on a Mac, I would have been astounded if Apple had been able to cram it into the MacBook Pro’s remarkably thin display. And, no, I don’t think we’d be applauding a Surface Book-like thickness lid.

I think it does a disservice to readers and sets unreasonable expectations, to downplay the complexity of these systems.

Personally, I’m glad that Apple has made the notch as large as it has because, to me, it suggests they’re giving themselves enough width to add it later (after shrinking the existing tech packed into it, of course) without a significant redesign needed for their hardware or first and third-party software. Regarding the necessary depth, I’d be okay with a camera bump that pushed out the thickness of the lid just behind the notch, but that, again, adds complexity.

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