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Apple is making it easier to unlock your phone when wearing a mask

Daniel Howley
·Technology Editor
·3 min read
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On the grand list of First World problems, not being able to unlock your iPhone with Face ID while wearing a mask is undoubtedly at the top.

That said, come on, it’s pretty annoying. And I, along with a lot of other iPhone owners, am not above complaining loudly about a minor inconvenience. Don’t get me wrong: Face ID is a great technology. It literally lets me pay for a six-pack with my mug.

And Apple (AAPL) certainly couldn’t have predicted that its face scanning technology, first introduced in 2017, would meet its Achilles’ heel in the form of a blue surgical mask, but here we are. I frequently find myself having to unlock my phone using my passcode while wearing a mask at the grocery store to check my list. And chances are, you’ve had to do the same to comply with mask regulations in your area.

Thankfully, the tech giant has a solution coming to iOS. There’s just one caveat. In order for you to take advantage of Apple’s Face ID fix, you’ll also need an Apple Watch.

Here’s how to securely unlock your iPhone by bypassing Face ID using your Apple Watch.

You’ll need to use a beta or wait

It’s important to note that Apple’s face mask bypass is part of a public beta, meaning it’s not quite ready for prime time. The company will release the feature via upcoming iOS and watchOS updates.

It’s not recommended that you use a beta unless you’re doing so on a backup device, so you may want to hold off. But if you’re curious, you can do so by signing up for Apple’s beta program and downloading the latest versions of both operating systems.

You'll soon be able to unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask. But you'll need an Apple Watch to do it. (Image: Howley)
You'll soon be able to unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask. But you'll need an Apple Watch to do it. (Image: Howley)

If you’d rather err on the side of caution, you likely won’t have to wait much longer for those updates to become available. Once they are, though, you’ll need to download them for both your iPhone and Apple Watch.

When that’s set, you’ll be able to open the Settings app and select Face ID & Passcode.

Enter your iPhone’s passcode, the combination that lets you unlock your phone, and scroll down to Unlock with Apple Watch.

From here, you’ll select the Apple Watch you want to use to unlock your phone, and move the slider to the on position.

Now that you’re set up, pop your mask on and swipe up on your phone to unlock it. Your watch will vibrate, telling you that you’ve successfully unlocked your phone. And that’s that.

Keep a few things in mind, though. To use the feature, your watch will need to have a passcode of its own that you enter when you put it on to unlock it. You’ll also need to be wearing your watch, and for it to be unlocked on your wrist.

Once that’s all set, you’ll no longer have to deal with the inconvenience of having to type in your phone’s passcode while wearing a mask again.

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Got a tip? Email Daniel Howley at dhowley@yahoofinance.com over via encrypted mail at danielphowley@protonmail.com, and follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

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