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Airdrop app on MacBook finally puts the notch to good use

Published Jun 17th, 2022 2:59PM EDT
Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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After introducing the notch on the iPhone X in 2017, Apple brought the infamous screen cutout to the MacBook Pro last year. A few days ago, the redesigned MacBook Air got the same notch display. The notch isn’t as helpful on the Mac as on the iPhone since Macs don’t support Face ID like iPhones. The main point of the MacBook notch is to let Apple increase the display area without expanding the laptop’s overall size. And now, someone has developed a brilliant app that actually makes the MacBook notch useful.

Why there’s no Face ID support on the MacBook

The iPhone X notch is one of the best smartphone design compromises out there. The iPhone has an all-screen design with uniform bezels, except for the notch.

Apple needs the cutout to offer 3D face recognition authentication on its iPhones. Face ID is also available on the iPad Pro models, where Apple didn’t go for a notch design. That’s because the screens have a larger bezel surrounding them.

The 2021 MacBook Pro and 2022 MacBook Air have notches like the iPhone, but they lack Face ID support. Apple adopted the notch on the MacBook without bringing Face ID tech to macOS.

For now, Apple can’t include Face ID functionality on the MacBook, as the top panel is much thinner than the iPhone. In other words, the internal Face ID components are thicker than the MacBook display.

You can use Face ID to unlock the iPhone and log into apps. The MacBook notch doesn’t have similar functionality. It only houses the MacBook’s webcam.

Until Apple can shrink those components, they can’t make it into the MacBook notch, no matter how exciting having Face ID on Mac might be.

Apple MacBook Pro 2021 Notch
Apple MacBook Pro 2021 Notch Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The reason Apple went for the notch on MacBooks was to increase the size of the screens at the expense of the bezels. That’s why Apple went to 14.2-inch and 16.2-inch displays for the 2021 MacBook Pro. The new Air got a 13.6-inch panel. And despite all those larger displays, the overall footprint of the laptops hasn’t changed.

Other than that, the notch doesn’t have any real purpose. And you’ll get used to it just like you did with the iPhone X design.

The new notch app

One developer came up with a brilliant use for this design element. As you’ll see in the short video Ian Keen shared on Twitter, you might soon use the MacBook notch with a new app to AirDrop files between compatible devices.

AirDrop is the wireless data transfer feature that makes it easy to share files between iPhones, iPads, and Macs. You don’t need a notch to make it happen. You only need to enable AirDrop on your devices.

However, Apple’s AirDrop implementation is cumbersome, especially on the Mac. There’s no way to easily start AirDropping files from the computer. You have to look for the share option to send files to other devices or people around you.

Keen imagined a new MacBook gesture for the notch. The app he’s developing lets you select multiple files that can be shared via AirDrop. You can then drag them towards the notch, which lights up. Once you do that, the AirDrop menu comes up and you can select the recipients.

The MacBook notch AirDrop app is just a shortcut. And there’s no telling when Keen will make the app available to MacBook users. But it’s still a brilliant use of an interface element to help out with a handy macOS feature.

AirDrop is the easiest way to move files between Apple devices, and the notch gesture makes it even easier to activate on Mac.

More Apple coverage: For more Apple news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.