Want Face ID On A MacBook? You’re Out Of Luck



Here’s why Face ID won’t come to the MacBook any time soon.


Face ID is Apple’s revolutionary biometric authentication system. It was first unveiled on the iPhone X back in 2017 and since then has been on every iPhone with the exception of the iPhone SE.

Face ID has also made its way across to the iPad line thanks to its inclusion on the iPad Pro series. But fans of the technology have been clamoring for years for Apple to bring Face ID to another product: the Mac.

However, the latest news suggests that we’re not likely to see Face ID on Apple laptops anytime soon (the iMac may be a different story). Here’s why…

Face ID
  • Save

Face ID Hardware (How It Works)

Before we get into why Face ID will likely not come to the MacBook anytime soon, it’s important to understand the Face ID hardware itself – as this is the main limiting factor for putting it into a MacBook.

Many people assume Face ID is just a type of photo recognition done by the iPhone’s camera. However, the hardware underlying Face ID is much more than just a camera. It’s also a series of sensors that allow the Face ID module to sense not just what you look like, but the depth of the actual features on your face – such as the depth of your eyes, nose, and lips.

This is why you can’t fool Face ID simply by holding a photo of the device owner’s face up to the Face ID camera. Face ID requires depth readings – and even can require eye movement if you so choose.

So the takeaway here is Face ID is more than just a front-facing camera. It relies on other pieces of tech to work. And it’s the size of the Face ID modules that is the problem for MacBooks…

face id tips
  • Save

Face ID Is Too Thick for MacBooks

The problem for MacBooks is this Face ID tech is relatively thick – about 4mm to 6mm in thickness by best guesses. What that means is that the iPhone has the room to include the Face ID hardware, because most iPhones are at least 7mm thick.

However, the MacBook doesn’t have the room for a Face ID sensor array. Now–this is when most people say, “But MacBooks are thicker than iPhones!” And they are right – a closed-lid MacBook is thicker than an iPhone. However, Apple can’t put the Face ID array in the bottom of the MacBook. It would need to be placed by the MacBook’s existing camera at the top of the screen.

And the problem is the MacBook’s screen and its housing is no more than just a few millimeters thick. This means you can’t jam the Face ID sensor into the display of the MacBook – well at least not if you didn’t want to have a massive camera bump on the back of the MacBook’s lid.

Want Face ID On A MacBook? You’re Out Of Luck
  • Save

But There Is Hope For Face ID On The Mac

The size of the current Face ID array means its inclusion in the MacBook anytime soon is highly unlikely. However, that’s not true for all Macs. As a matter of fact, Apple was considering adding Face ID to one Mac product already.

In Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman latest Power On newsletter, Gurman states:

“Face ID was in the cards for the original M1 iMac. Naturally, the iMac is the thickest Mac with a built-in display since Apple’s laptops have fairly thin screens. At this point, the technology to embed Face ID into the thin MacBook displays doesn’t exist. So if Face ID comes to the Mac, I think it will be on an iMac or external monitor first. Apple has definitely been working on this, but time will tell if they launch it.”

Mark Gurman

Unfortunately, it’s unknown why Apple ended up not including Face ID on the M1 iMac. However, it’s very likely Face ID could be included on the iMac in the future.

And check out How To Turn Your Old Mac Into A Chromebook! And take a look at How To Use Face ID With A Face Mask (The New, EASY Way)!

  • Save

Michael Grothaus

Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap