Apple may let you use Face ID with a mask in next iOS update

Apple appears to be testing a feature that will allow you to use Face ID to unlock the phone even when wearing a mask. The first developer beta of iOS 15.4 has a screen that asks if you want to be able to use Face ID while wearing a mask, at the cost of reduced security, according to photos from Brandon Butch on Twitter and MacRumors. Unfortunately, the feature will only be available if you have a newer device as per 9to5Mac.

According to screen images, Apple says “iPhone can recognize unique features around the eye area to authenticate” but warns that Face ID will be more accurate if you’ve set it not to work with a mask.

However, not everyone will be able to take advantage of this particular feature. While a colleague of mine confirmed it worked on his iPhone 12, 9to5Mac reports that it only works on the iPhone 12 and 13 lines. They also couldn’t use it on a 2018 iPad Pro.

As the pandemic drags on, people (and organizations like the New York MTA) are clamoring for Apple to add a way to let people unlock iPhones while wearing masks. Apple introduced various updates to help you out – iOS 13.5 would detect that you’re wearing a mask and quickly prompt you for your password instead of trying to authenticate your face, and 14.5 would allow people with Apple Watches to use Face ID while wearing a mask. (It appears to unlock for anyone wearing a mask, as long as your Apple Watch is close enough to the phone.) For people without an Apple Watch, however, it looks like this feature may finally be on the horizon, assuming that it turns out to be sufficiently secure.

Apple did not immediately respond to The edgerequest for feature feedback.

Update, Jan. 27 4:19 p.m. ET: Added information about the feature that would only be available on the iPhone 12 and 13.

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