It may not get top billing from Tim Cook, but Apple is working quietly away in the background to improve the MacBook Pro. The latest confirmed feature under development will introduce FaceID to the macOS powered range of computers, offering more security and faster access to your laptop.
The details come in a patent published this week. Simply titled â€œPresence Sensingâ€ it describes methods that would allow a computer in a stand-by mode to be aware that there is something close to it before powering up a second sensor to determine if this is a human presence, then determine if the computer should power up to become active.
In essence your MacBook would be sleeping but watching for you, and if you are spotted, boom, you are up and running with an unlocked computer. No doubt driven by FaceID, this magical feature reduces the friction and time required to start up a computer and begin working.
9to5Macâ€™sÂ Ben Lovejoy suspects this could be an extension to Power Nap:
Power Nap allows current Macs to perform certain background tasks while sleeping. The idea is that by doing things like updating your calendar, photos, notes, and so on, even when the Mac is in sleep mode, it will be ready for you to get to work as soon as you wake it.
This patent would appear to extend Power Napâ€™s capabilities to using the camera to look out for someone approaching the Mac. If it detects a person, it then powers-up face-recognition functionality to see if it recognizes them as the owner of the Mac. If it does, it could fully wake and unlock the Mac.
Two things to note. The first is that this is a patent. Admittedly one that has been granted, but thereâ€™s nothing that commits Apple to using this technology. That said it feels like the sort of useful life hack that Steve Jobsâ€™ Apple would keep pulling out every year to stop Apple feeling like just another tech company with an iterative update.
The second is that the MacBook is going to be a little late to the party. Thanks to â€˜raise to wakeâ€™ and FaceID already being part of iOS, your iPhone and iPad Pro can already be woken up and unlocked by lifting the handset into action. So can many Android smartphones and Windows 10 laptops.
Still, better late than never!
Now read more about the new design for the 16-inch MacBook Proâ€¦