At its WWDC developer conference in San Francisco next month, Apple is reportedly planning to unveil an OS X update that would let iPhone owners unlock their Macs using the Touch ID feature on their phones.
While not identifying its sources, an article published yesterday by MacRumors said Apple engineers were working on a Bluetooth-enabled auto unlock feature that might be included in OS X 10.12, the next version of the operating system for Macs. That feature would allow individuals to use iPhones to unlock their nearby Macs without having to type in passwords.
Apple is expected to announcing the release of OS X 10.12 — the successor to El Capitan, its current OS X — during CEO Tim Cook’s keynote address kicking off WWDC, which is set to run from June 13 through 17. The new operating system is likely to become available sometime this fall.
Siri, iTunes and Photo Updates also Likely
“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,” according to MacRumors. “Along with the unlocking feature, Apple is also working on integrating Siri into the Mac and we may see improvements to Photos and iTunes.”
Apple rolled out Touch ID with its iPhone 5s in 2013. The feature added a biometric sensor to the device’s home button to enable users to unlock the phone and authorize transactions with their fingerprints.
A third-party iOS app called MacID, created by designer/developer Kane Cheshire, already allows Mac owners to use the Touch ID feature on iOS devices to unlock their desktops. Cheshire has also developed a similar app for the Apple Watch.
New Version of Third-Party App Due Soon
Cheshire posted an update today on his MacID blog in response to the report from MacRumors. He said that even if Apple came out with the new feature, “I won’t be shelving MacID.”
“The reason MacID exists is because I was bored of waiting for Apple to implement it themselves, so I can’t get angry that they finally have,” Cheshire wrote. “Am I concerned? A little, I won’t lie, but this is software development . . . this sort of stuff is what happens, especially to independent devs.”
He added that he didn’t believe that Apple would include all the capabilities of MacID in any new version of its Touch ID feature, including Tap to Unlock, custom proximity triggers and support for multiple iOS devices per Mac, as well as multiple Macs per iOS device. In a tweet on Wednesday, Cheshire said that the latest update to his app — MacID 1.3.4 — should be ready for submission to Apple for release soon.
Apple said it expects to unveil new developments for all four of its software platforms at WWDC 2016, i.e., iOS, OS X, watchOS and tvOS.
Image Credit: iPhone 6s via Apple.