MacBooks could soon fall behind the iPad Pro in this important way

The iPad Pro (2022) sitting in the Magic Keyboard.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

I use a MacBook almost every day, and there’s one thing that I really wish it had: Face ID. I’ve been asking for this feature for years, and Apple is apparently finally bringing it to a laptop-like experience … on the iPad. Despite the Mac being snubbed yet again, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about this change.

According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, a new iPad Pro is about to launch in March this year, and it could potentially come with a “landscape Face ID camera.” That could give Apple’s tablet a vital advantage over the company’s MacBooks, and I’m drooling at the thought.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking — the 10th-generation iPad already has a landscape camera. It helps greatly if you’re using it like a laptop, for example, to conduct video calls in landscape mode. But there’s a key problem: the 10th-gen iPad doesn’t come with Face ID, nor does it have anywhere near as powerful a chip as you’ll find in the iPad Pro. And that’s why Gurman’s latest news is so exciting for the iPad Pro — and sad for MacBooks.

The dream experience

A person uses an M1 iPad Pro with a keyboard case while sat at a desk.

With Apple’s top-of-the-line tablet, a landscape camera with Face ID could have uses far beyond the current iPad’s landscape snapper and its role in video calls. It could be used to unlock your device in the easiest way imaginable — just sit down at your desk, look at the camera, and you’re in — and confirm purchases in a super-secure way, all without you ever having to lift your hands up to use Touch ID.

Moreover, the latest iPad Pro comes with an M2 chip, and the new version might even up that to an M3, given that the excellent chip has already made its debut in the MacBook line. With power like that on the inside, a range of excellent keyboard cases, and Face ID baked in, the iPad could transform into a serious rival to Apple’s own laptops.

In other words, all that could turn the iPad Pro into the MacBook experience I’ve long dreamed of. It would be ultra-portable and light weight, yet still pack in tons of power for demanding tasks. The addition of Face ID would be the icing on the cake.

That said, adding a landscape Face ID camera hasn’t yet been confirmed. But it seems to be a likely addition sooner or later. I can’t imagine Apple will have added a landscape lens to the 10th-gen iPad with the intention that that would be the only tablet to follow that path. No, that was much more likely to have been the first step in transforming the iPad range. With a new iPad Pro almost upon us, a landscape camera feels like a certainty.

Face ID on the Mac

The 14-inch MacBook Pro with M3 Max chip seen from behind.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

The next question, then, is simple: Will the MacBook follow suit and also get Face ID? The answer to that is far murkier, but there are some clues littered here and there.

We know that Apple is at least considering bringing Face ID to the Mac because the company has been awarded a bunch of patents detailing exactly that. That’s not a guarantee that it’s coming by any means, but it suggests Apple is taking the idea seriously.

It also just makes sense. Using Touch ID on your Mac is secure, but it interrupts your workflow by requiring you to lift your hand off your keyboard or mouse. Face ID is more secure than Touch ID and less disruptive, as it only asks you to look at its sensors to unlock your computer.

That makes it a very elegant, Apple-like solution to the type of security problem the company loves fixing. As far as new feature ideas go, it feels tailor-made for Apple.

If Gurman is correct and the iPad Pro’s March update features a landscape Face ID camera, it will be brilliant news for iPad and Mac fans alike. Not only will it be a great feature for tablet users, but it will demonstrate exactly why Face ID will work so seamlessly on a laptop-like device. What better reason could there be to bring Face ID to the Mac?

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