Apple just gave millions of mask-wearing iPhone users an excellent reason to buy an Apple Watch

iOS 14.5 will let you unlock your iPhone with Face ID when wearing a mask—but only if you’re wearing an Apple Watch

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Michael Simon/IDG

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Ever since Covid-19 forced us all to wear masks wherever we go, Face ID on our iPhones isn’t quite as magical as it was. That’s because Face ID is so good at recognizing who you are, it won’t unlock when half of your face is covered.

Now Apple has a fix. Debuting in iOS 14.5, which just dropped in the developer channel on Monday and should reach public beta testers soon, the new feature will allow you to unlock your phone or display notifications using Face ID when wearing a mask, provided you’re wearing an Apple Watch.

apple watch unlock iphone IDG

You'll be able to unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask if you're wearing an Apple Watch in iOS 14.5.

Similar to Auto Unlock on the Mac, your Apple Watch will send an authentication approval to the iPhone when Face ID recognizes the user is wearing a mask and unlock without needing to type in a passcode. If you swipe up, you’ll briefly see an “Unlocking with Apple Watch” screen and your iPhone will unlock as normal. The new feature only works for unlocking and can’t be used for purchases or passwords.

The new feature can be turned on in the Face ID and passcode tab in the Settings app.

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