Face masks and facial recognition are a bad mix in this COVID-19 world, and a company that’s been subject to this discrepancy has been Apple. The iPhone maker has been shipping millions of phones with Face ID, with plenty of users already using such devices. That basically means it’s impossible to unlock your iPhone while wearing a face mask, but Apple’s gonna try to put a band-aid over that bullet hole thanks to a new feature in iOS 14.5.
In this upcoming update for your iPhone, Apple will let you unlock your iPhone so long as your Apple Watch is in close proximity, similar to how the Mac works. If your iPhone detects that you’re wearing a mask, it’ll look for your Apple Watch to confirm your identity. So long as the watch is unlocked, the feature will work.
It isn’t exactly clear how your iPhone can tell it’s you under the mask. I’m assuming it collects all the data it can and determines there’s a large object obstructing its view. But if it just fails to read a face, couldn’t anybody have your Apple Watch on and try to get into your phone?
I’m also wondering if this feature will come to the iPad Pro which features Face ID. I haven’t heard anything, but I’ll update this article if the feature reaches Apple’s tablet line.
Worth noting is the fact you can do nothing but unlock your iPhone with this feature. Apple isn’t gonna let you use your watch to verify Apple Pay purchases, for example. You’ll also have to manually enter your passcode every few hours to remind your iPhone that you’re still there. Overall, the feature is a workaround that probably works *just* reliably well for Apple to justify shipping it.
Apple will first let developers test drive the feature in the first beta of iOS 14.5. The software also includes a new Apple Podcasts interface, Siri enhancements like “call emergency” and message sending, Xbox Series S/X and PlayStation 5 controller support, enhancements to Reminders and Apple News, and more. iPadOS 14.5, watchOS 7.4, and tvOS 14.5 are also now in beta.
I’ll let you know when these new features start rolling out to the public.