There’s no denying that Face ID is a handy bit of tech, allowing you to unlock your phone and authorise purchases with nothing more than a glance, but there was one unforeseen problem with Apple’s tech: facemasks. Facemasks, which have become a staple of everyday life during the past year, render Apple’s facial recognition tech useless, requiring users with masks to rely on the backup of using your phone’s passcode to authenticate.
It certainly removes a bit of the magic of the high-end iPhone 12 series, but that’s set to change with the release of iOS 14.5. No, your iPhone isn’t about to gain some kind of power that allows it to see through facemasks – the workaround Apple has planned requires the Apple Watch.
Hot off the heels of the release of iOS 14.4 to the public, Apple began seeding the first beta of iOS 14.5 to developers, and it’s a notably bigger update than other ‘point’ updates in the past.
Among other features, including the ability to change your default music player, Apple is introducing a feature to the iPhone that’ll detect a facemask when trying to use Face ID and then look for a connected Apple Watch to authenticate the request.
If you’ve got a watch on, it’s unlocked and nearby, your iPhone should unlock without prompting you for your passcode, but it’s not perfect.
Due to the reduced security that the convenience brings, you’ll still need to input your passcode to authenticate purchases. It’s also something that users will have to opt into manually, found buried deep in the Settings menu in the iOS 14.5 beta. Oh, and on the off-chance somebody does unlock your iPhone using your Apple Watch, you can quickly lock it from your wrist.
The good news is that you don’t have to wait for the official release of iOS 14.5 to experience the new unlock method for yourself: following a delay, Apple has now released not only the public beta for iOS 14.5 but watchOS 7.4 too, another crucial element to make the tech work as planned.
There could be bugs and other issues with the public beta, hence the beta nature, and it’s not recommended that you install it on your main device, but hey, you can sign up to the public beta program if you want to give it a try.
It’s a welcome workaround for those of us that own the Apple Watch and wear facemasks on a daily basis, but it’ll do until Apple inevitably reintroduces Touch ID.
Touch ID won’t completely replace Face ID, according to reports, but instead it’ll serve as a secure backup for when Face ID isn’t available, and like Android alternatives, it could be embedded within the display of the upcoming iPhone. As somebody that misses the convenience of Touch ID, this writer certainly can’t wait.