Which of these laptop privacy features would you like to see in a MacBook?

Which of these laptop privacy features would you like to see in a MacBook?

January 10, 2022 0 By Ben Lovejoy

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Which of these laptop privacy features would you like to see in a MacBook?

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Laptop privacy features have become something of a trend at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show – including the capability to automatically blur the screen if a bystander looks at it.

Some features can extend battery life too …

Anandtech spotted the trend, and describes some of the new approaches on show.

Integrated privacy screens, with toggle

You’re probably familiar with removable privacy screens, which let a laptop user view their screen straight on, while blocking anyone looking from the side. Now HP has come up with a built-in one that can be toggled on and off.

One of the recent solutions has been integrated privacy screens, which dramatically reduce the viewing angle of displays so that if someone attempts to glance over at your screen while you are working, they will see almost nothing. While a good solution, these privacy screens can impact the device usage as well to the detriment of the user experience, which is why, for example, HP’s Sure View integrated privacy screen can be toggled on and off.

Auto-hiding when shoulder surfers spotted

A more sophisticated approach is to use eye-tracking systems to automatically blur or turn off the screen when someone else looks at it.

A new solution has popped up this year at CES from several manufacturers, and that is to actively reject shoulder surfing by use IR cameras to detect unwanted eyes and then blur the display if they are detected.

Auto-blurring when you look away

This could be combined with a precautionary blurring if you look away.

With Tobii Aware, the laptop will be able to continuously provide authentication for the correct user, so if that user turns their head, the display will blur, then when they turn back, it will come back into focus.

Auto-locking if you step away from your laptop

Another approach is to use face recognition to put your laptop into sleep mode if you step away from it.

Presence detection is another feature that has become a focus, including in Windows itself, and the device can automatically lock itself if you step away. 

This can also reduce battery drain by switching off the machine when you’re not using it.

Auto-dimming when you look away

A final feature more geared to boosting battery life than privacy is to use eye tracking to dim the screen if you look away from it, then restore brightness when you look back.

The ThinkPad X1 will […] automatically dim the display when it is not being looked at, and as the display is the largest power draw in the entire system, it can further improve battery life. 

Which laptop privacy features should Apple adopt?

Would you like to see Apple implement any of these features? Please take our poll (you can select up to three options), and share your thoughts in the comments.

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About the Author

Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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