Exclusive: Want Face ID on the Mac? macOS Big Sur suggests the TrueDepth camera is coming


Some iPhone and iPad models feature Face ID, which allows users to unlock the device through advanced facial recognition. While Face ID is not yet available on any Mac, 9to5Mac found references to the TrueDepth camera on macOS Big Sur, which suggests Apple is working to bring facial recognition to its computers.

We were able to find a new extension on macOS Big Sur beta 3 with codes intended to support “PearlCamera.” You may not remember, but this is the internal codename Apple uses for the TrueDepth camera and Face ID, which was first revealed with the iPhone X leaks in 2017.

Codes such as “FaceDetect” and “BioCapture” found within this extension confirms that Apple is preparing macOS to operate with Face ID, as these codes are similar to those used by iOS. We investigated and this Face ID extension was clearly built for macOS, and it’s not some remnant code from Catalyst technology.

However, the implementation is still in the early stages, so it might take some time before Apple announces a new Mac model with the TrueDepth camera to support Face ID.

Only the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro currently feature biometric authentication through Touch ID integrated into the keyboard. Having Face ID on the Mac would bring even more convenience to unlocking the computer, and it would also fit perfectly on iMac, which doesn’t have a built-in keyboard. As Touch ID depends on the T2 security chip, it would be impractical for Apple to add it to a separate wireless keyboard.

Another important aspect is the Neural Engine, which is part of the A-series processors since the introduction of the A11 Bionic chip. This neural technology is fundamental to the way Face ID works, as it analyzes the details of the user’s face through machine learning models in just a fraction of a second, but no Mac has included Neural Engine so far.

This will change this year with the transition from Intel processors to Apple Silicon chips on the Mac, as Apple itself has confirmed that Macs running with Apple SoCs will have the same Neural Engine as iPhone and iPad. We believe that might be the main reason Apple hasn’t yet introduced a Mac with Face ID.

We still don’t know further details about how Face ID will work on the Mac, but presumably, it will operate in the same way as on iPhone and iPad. In addition to Face ID, the TrueDepth camera also enables features like animated Memoji and better integration with augmented reality apps.

With the first Apple Silicon Mac coming later this year, users will also be able to run any iOS app on macOS, which is certainly one more reason to have the TrueDepth camera on Macs.

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