Apple has brought its Touch ID fingerprint scanning system to its first peripheral device.
The new Magic Keyboard was announced at Apple’s Spring Loaded launch event this week. It’s the keyboard component of the new iMac, and it features a built-in Touch ID button at the top right corner of the keyboard. The fingerprint-scanning button can be used to unlock the device, sign into certain apps, and authorize online purchases.
The design represents the continuing expansion of Touch ID’s reach after it made its debut on an iPhone in 2013. Apple brought Touch ID to its MacBook Pro laptop in 2016, and the authentication system subsequently found its way to the lighter MacBook Air.
In recent years, however, Apple has been putting the spotlight on facial recognition rather than fingerprint scanning. Face ID became the authentication method of choice on the iPhone starting in 2017, and actually replaced Touch ID on subsequent iPhone devices up until Apple’s launch of its more budget-friendly iPhone SE in 2020.
Lately, there has been speculation that Touch ID might make a comeback in Apple’s iPhone line, most likely in a format that would integrate it under a device display, and perhaps facilitate multimodal authentication alongside Face ID. The system’s appearance in the new Magic Keyboard could attest to a renewal of interest on Apple’s part.
The new iMac and its Magic Keyboard will be available for order starting April 30, and are expected to ship in the second half of May. The Magic Keyboard is meant to be backwards-compatible with older Mac devices, but its Touch ID system will reportedly only work with Mac PCs and laptops featuring Apple’s M1 chip.