Apple could be bringing Face ID to the Mac, references found in macOS 11 Big Sur code

Code found in the third developer beta for macOS 11 Big Sur hints that the Cupertino giant might be working to bring Face ID to Mac PCs. The code, found by 9to5Mac in a new extension, references support for ‘PearlCamera’, which was supposedly the internal codename for the TrueDepth 3D camera and the Face ID feature that debuted in 2017 with the iPhone X. Recently, a patent by the iPhone company also hinted at one of the ways that it could implement Face ID in iMacs and MacBooks.

Other terms such as “FaceDetect” and “BioCapture” were also found in the code, which the publication says is similar to the ones used in iOS. Additionally, it reports that the references are specifically related to – and built for – macOS, suggesting that these mentions are not present due to some shared code from Catalyst. However, the source cautions that the code points to an early stage of development.

The TrueDepth camera leverages Apple’s neural engine present in its A-series ARM-based chips. This could mean that the firm is readying support for Face ID on Mac PCs that are based on Apple Silicon. With the firm gradually moving away from Intel processors, it might want to start introducing the biometric authentication option when it starts offering MacBooks powered by its own processors. Currently, the only biometric authentication option on MacBooks is the fingerprint sensor, which uses a custom T2 chip.

As for iMac PCs, the wait could be longer. Those devices do not offer any form of biometric authentication natively due to the lack of the T2 chip on the computer's keyboard, which unlike a MacBook, is a separate peripheral. A neural engine-supporting Apple Silicon-based iMac will likely not release any time soon.

While it is no surprise that the company is working to bring Face ID to the Mac, it is interesting to see early code already present in macOS. It will be interesting to see how the company builds the TrueDepth camera into Macs, and what additional features and benefits it will bring to users.

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