There are lots of exciting rumours about Apple’s plans for the Mac in 2021. The company is reportedly looking, for example, at giving the MacBook Pro all the tools and features we’ve been demanding for years: MagSafe, more ports, and maybe even an SD card reader, which that machine has lacked since the current generation was launched in 2016.
More surprising is the recent claim from Bloomberg that Apple is already working on offering both 5G and Face ID in the Mac, but it’s unlikely to appear in a commercially available machine until 2022 at the earliest.
It feels like Apple has long been torn over whether the Mac should have a mobile data chip or not. Many years ago, pictures were leaked of an older MacBook Pro with a sliding antenna for 3G connection as a complement to Wi-Fi and ethernet. However, that prototype was never turned into a finished product.
Maybe Apple still doubts whether mobile data is worth the effort. So far, anyone who wanted to surf beyond Wi-Fi has been able to connect to their phone instead.
Bloomberg’s sources believe that Apple has already built underlying support for Face ID into macOS, which makes it all the more surprising that compatible hardware won’t be available this year: after all, adding Face ID to a Mac feels like a natural development.
Maybe the explanation is very simple. Face ID simply doesn’t fit.
The projector that shoots out tiny infrared dots to read the depth of your face needs a certain amount of space, and a glance at an iPhone with Face ID shows that it’s thicker than the lid of a MacBook. This is the bottleneck, the design obstacle that makes it difficult to fit Face ID into a Mac laptop.
But that applies only to laptops. What about the iMac? Admittedly, the new iMac model is expected to have a thinner screen this year, but it won’t be thinner than an iPhone. It has to fit an entire computer behind it.
Bloomberg claims this year’s new Macs were slated to get Face ID, but that Apple postponed this to the future without going into detail about why. It’s perfectly possible that Apple is waiting to introduce Face ID on the Mac until all models have the opportunity to do so. Maybe the company wants to avoid having to explain why an iMac can have face recognition while a MacBook Pro that costs the same amount has to settle for Touch ID.
But we hope that Apple acts pragmatically, and doesn’t punish the iMac just because the MacBook Pro can’t squeeze in Face ID. If the iPhone can have Face ID, the iMac can definitely have it too.
This is going to be a big year for the iMac, with a completely new design for the first time in 17 years. And at this point it would be strange to see the reimagined iMac launch without Face ID as a login method.
This article originally appeared on Macworld Sweden. Translation by David Price.