Here’s Apple’s Confounding Explanation for Why the New MacBook Pros Lack Face ID and Touch Input

BY Chandraveer Mathur

Published 29 Oct 2021

A couple of Apple executives told the Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern about the most important and talked about missing features of the new MacBook Pro—Face ID and a touchscreen display. Here’s what they had to say.

Since Face ID’s inception with the iPhone X, Apple fans have always wondered when the feature will make its way to the Macs. Earlier this year, reports suggested Apple will oblige but when the new MacBook Pro’s didn’t support FaceID, the discussion returned to the mainstream.

Addressing this concern, Apple’s VP of iPad and Mac product marketing, Tom Boger told Stern that Touch ID is more convenient to use than Face ID because users’ hands would already be on the Mac’s keyboard. The Touch ID sensor is located on the top right-hand side corner and allows users to authenticate sign-in with just a tap.

Another contentious topic has been the addition of touchscreen displays in Macs. The popular belief is that if Macs gain touch capabilities, they would cannibalize the iPad’s sales. Apple’s senior VP of hardware engineering John Ternus corroborated this and said, “We make the world’s best touch computer on an iPad. It’s totally optimized for that. And the Mac is totally optimized for indirect input. We haven’t really felt a reason to change that.”

Addressing other questions about the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, Ternus and Boger said that both models feature RAM that can’t be upgraded by the user in the future. They also said Apple Silicon’s Unified Memory Architecture (UMA) unlocks better performance on Macs with Apple’s chips and that those performance levels would be unattainable without UMA.

Notably, design changes with the new MacBook Pros include the reintroduction of connectivity ports such as HDMI and MagSafe that were sorely missed since the redesign in 2016. With the new models, Apple also removed the touch bar to bring back a conventional row of function keys.

Boger said that Apple reversed its 2016 design decisions because it has always been “listening to its customers.”

“We’re constantly listening to our customers and with this new lineup of MacBook Pros we decided to make some changes as we do a lot on the Mac,” he said.

Our Take

Clearly, Apple thought a giant bathtub notch in the MacBook Pro’s display doesn’t warrant the inclusion of Face ID although it has been a highly requested feature and consumers were hopeful. Apparently, our hands are on the Mac keyboard but our faces aren’t in front of its screen when we use it. By this logic, even the iPads should have Touch ID only since we hold the device to use it.

Sarcasm apart, Apple’s strategy of omitting touch input capability on the $4,000 MacBook Pro is deliberate and a classic Apple move. We are hardly surprised Apple admitted to it. No surprises with the non-upgradable RAM either. It’s probably soldered onto the motherboard.

[Via Wall Street Journal]