Face ID, Touch ID and the Future
Ever since the launch of the iPhone 5s in the fall of 2013, we’ve had Touch ID. That’s the fingerprint recognition system that’s been on all new iPhones ever since. Except the iPhone X which uses Face ID.
As Touch ID evolved, Apple thought about how it could be a feature of not just iPhones but the new MacBook Pros starting in late 2016. That resulted in the Touch ID section of the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar.
We naturally wondered what would happen to Macs without built-in keyboards, like the iMacs. But at WWDC 2017, Apple introduced new iMacs with standard keyboards, The Magic Keyboard family. Okay, we thought, Apple wasn’t ready with a new keyboard with a Secure Enclave and an encrypted link to the iMac. We’ll wait.
For awhile, there were rumors that only the iMac Pro would have this kind of advanced, possibly expensive, keyboard. That would be a shame. Or maybe the standard iMac would models would ship with a Touch ID keyboard in the future. A recent demo of the iMac Pro had the same keyboard showed at WWDC. Maybe the advanced keyboard will never appear. Maybe it will be unveiled in December.
But then Face ID came along, and that, Apple says, is much more secure. It looks to be the best authentication system going forward on iPhones. And so. If it’s so great, will Face ID be implemented on future MacBook/Pros? Will future MacBooks get a simpler Touch Bar but have Faced ID? Alternatively will the Touch Bar, which hasn’t set the world on fire, disappear altogether from MacBook Pros— which will sport a FaceID system above the display as in the iPhone X? (The “notch.”)
Worse, what about the imminent Mac Pro? It doesn’t have a built-in display and may well sit hidden under a desk. Will Apple offer a custom display with Face ID? That would greatly annoy technical professionals who like to select their own special purpose displays. They’d hate to be forced to chose between an Apple display with Face ID and their own favored 3rd party display.
Finally, don’t get me started on the Apple TV remote. I’m out of room.
Apple sells a lot of different devices for differing user needs that have different sizes, roles, and operational profiles. Syncing all these technologies, like 3D Touch and Face ID across platforms is tough. On one hand, the iPhone X could be the progenitor for all the new technologies going forward, and subsequent Apple products will inherit its features. On the other hand, new technologies often mature on one platform and then don’t find a practical place on the other offerings.
It’s a decent problem to have, but it can also introduce user confusion about how to operate their various Apple devices. Keeping the naming conventions consistent and offering upgrades to make devices work the same, when feasible, is always welcome.
That would be a touching gesture by Apple.