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How to unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask, Apple Watch owners only

  • Apple’s iOS 14.5 update lets you use Face ID to unlock your phone if you’re wearing a face mask.
  • But there’s a catch — it only works if you’re also wearing an Apple Watch.
  • The update lets you unlock your phone hands-free, but doesn’t work for App Store purchases.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Apple is rolling out software that allows iPhone owners to unlock their devices with Face ID if they’re wearing a face mask — but only if they’re also wearing an Apple Watch.

Currently, Apple offers three ways to unlock iPhones: passcodes, with your face via Face ID, and with your fingertips through Touch ID.

Touch ID is only available on older phones, and Apple’s biometric facial recognition doesn’t work if you’re wearing a face mask, meaning that for many iPhone users typing in their passcode is the only option.

But the beta of Apple’s new iOS 14.5 update, which it dropped on Monday, includes an alternative. The update allows iPhone owners to use Face ID even if their face is obscured by a face mask.

You just need to make sure your Apple Watch is already unlocked, and then look at your phone screen. Your watch will then buzz, and the phone will unlock.

You’ll have to enable the function first, which can be done by choosing “Settings” and then “Face ID & Passcode” on your iPhone. 

Read more: How Amazon, Google, Verily, and Apple are taking on the $29 billion industry to monitor your health data from home

As well as unlocking your phone, you can also use the Watch-based unlock for Apple Pay, but it won’t work for all functions. Purchases on iTunes and the App Store, for instance, will still require a passcode.

The news was first reported by Pocket-Lint.

The beta shows that Apple recognizes that it needs to adapt its products in light of the growing number of people wearing face masks, which are now mandatory on public transportation. Prior to the beta, the tech giant had already released an iPhone update that made it easier for users to quickly type in their passcode while wearing a face mask.

Other facial-recognition developers are also responding to this problem. New facial-recognition technology can accurately identify travelers wearing masks 96{41490b4d0cf0dbc5ec3f65e11fff509c7d6ed2a53a838ebf7adf43f0908f07f3} of the time, according to a test run by the Department of Homeland Security in early January.