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Apple Working on OS X 10.12 Feature Allowing Macs to Be Unlocked via iPhone's Touch ID

iPhone 6 Touch IDUnlocking an iPhone via Touch ID in lieu of a passcode makes it much easier to maintain security while preserving convenience, and Touch ID's ease of use has left many Mac users wondering when a similar feature might be introduced for Apple's desktop and notebook machines.

There has been speculation Apple might introduce dedicated Touch ID fingerprint scanning hardware for the Mac, but as it turns out, Apple is working on a simpler way to allow a Touch ID to unlock a Mac, and it's a feature that could be included in OS X 10.12.

Apple engineers are designing an auto unlock function that would allow an iPhone to unlock a Mac when in close proximity, alleviating the need to enter a password on a password-protected Mac.

The feature, which uses Bluetooth LE frameworks, will presumably work similarly to the automatic unlocking function on the Apple Watch, which allows an unlocked iPhone to bypass the passcode restriction on a connected Apple Watch. In this scenario, an iPhone's Touch ID button would likely be used as a verification method for simpler logins.

It's also possible that a connection with an Apple Watch could be used to unlock the Mac even when an iPhone isn't present, making the process even simpler. This concept has already been demonstrated through the Knock app for the iPhone and Apple Watch, using a Bluetooth connection to unlock a Mac instead of a password. Knock requires an iOS app and a Mac app to work, but an Apple-designed feature will undoubtedly be simpler.


The unlocking feature would likely work hand-in-hand with Apple Pay support for web browsers, also rumored to be coming soon. Remote Touch ID authentication from the iPhone or Apple Watch may be used to confirm purchases made via Siri on the Mac.

Features planned for OS X 10.12 are not yet set in stone, so there is a chance that the unlocking function could be shelved until a later date if work is not completed in time.

Because OS X 10.11 El Capitan focused heavily on internal updates and optimizations, Apple appears to be aiming to debut new features in OS X 10.12. Along with the unlocking feature, Apple is also working on integrating Siri into the Mac and we may see improvements to Photos and iTunes.

Details on Siri for Mac and the prospective design of the dock and menu bar icons can be seen in a post we shared yesterday.

Related Roundups: WWDC 2017, macOS Sierra
Tag: Touch ID


Top Rated Comments

(View all)

10 months ago
Picking up my phone to unlock my mac doesn't make anything easier. Adding a sensor to the keyboard will.
Rating: 44 Votes
10 months ago
This is dumb as hell... Put a Touch ID sensor on one of the keys and be done with it
Rating: 32 Votes
10 months ago
MacID already does that: https://macid.co. I have it and it works flawlessly!
Rating: 28 Votes
10 months ago
Honestly, I hope this is temporary and there will be a fingerprint sensor built into Macs. Not everyone has iPhones, and most importantly, I'm not about to pull out my phone to unlock it, open an app, then fingerprint it again. Might as well enter my 6-digit password because that's about as secure my computer needs to be since nobody even has access to it.
Rating: 27 Votes
10 months ago
Siri, Touch ID unlock, and hopefully a redesigned iTunes? 10.12 is getting more interesting by the day. Only one more month to go :D
Rating: 19 Votes
10 months ago

This is dumb as hell... Put a Touch ID sensor on one of the keys and be done with it


This isn't "dumb as hell". It effectively gives you pseudo-two factor authentication, because to get into the Mac, you need the phone, AND the fingerprint.

I'd like the option to require both the phone and a password to get into the machine.
Rating: 17 Votes
10 months ago

Touch ID doesn't even have to be on one of the keys. Just build the sensor right into the track pad. Second, partner with Visa Checkout & MasterCard Paypass so users can use Apple Pay right from a Mac in places where those payment services are accepted, and build on from there.

I can't believe an average guy like me knows more than Tim Cook and his "innovators" at Apple.


Do you really think the reason we haven't seen the expansion of Apple Pay and Touch ID to the Mac is because someone lacked the idea?
Rating: 16 Votes
10 months ago

Why would you pay with a MacBook when you could do that with your watch or Phone? I just can't see under any circumstance someone lugging a laptop up to a counter to pay much less an iMac.

You can use Apple Pay online. No one is anticipating making payments with their macbook in stores.

They both get pressed. They can both be made out of glass.

They're ideally the same thing, but one performs a function where you click, while the other just brings you back to the app launcher.

With this over-simplifying mindset, it's a wonder why you're not on the Apple Engineering Team.
Rating: 10 Votes
10 months ago
If it works as well as Handoff/AirPlay, I think I'll stick with a password for now...
Rating: 10 Votes
10 months ago

Touch ID doesn't even have to be on one of the keys. Just build the sensor right into the track pad. Second, partner with Visa Checkout & MasterCard Paypass so users can use Apple Pay right from a Mac in places where those payment services are accepted, and build on from there.

I can't believe an average guy like me knows more than Tim Cook and his "innovators" at Apple.


Right, you know SO much more and yet the world just had failed to discover your greatness. :rolleyes:
Rating: 9 Votes

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