Apple introduced its Face ID facial recognition system in November 2017 with the launch of the iPhone X, offering users an even simpler way to unlock their smartphone than traditional fingerprint recognition.
Following the now-mainstream usage of face masks, however, Apple’s biometric feature has been handicapped, leaving many users having to enter their passcode to unlock their device when in public spaces
Fortunately, Apple has responded to this change in our everyday lives by introducing a new feature that allows iPhone users wearing an Apple Watch to unlock their smartphone via Face ID through a partial face scan, when they’re wearing a mask.
The process is similar to how it works when unlocking a Mac with an Apple Watch. When the unlock happens, the user receives a haptic buzz and a notification on the Apple Watch informing them that the unlocking procedure has been successful. However, bear in mind that you can only use your Apple Watch to unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask – it can’t be used for authenticating Apple Pay or App Store purchases.
Before you can take advantage of the new feature, you’ll need to make sure that you’re running either a developer beta or the public betas of iOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4. You’ll need the iPhone and Apple Watch profiles from Apple’s beta testing website, and after you have them installed, you can update on iPhone by going to Settings -> General -> Software Update. To update your Apple Watch, install iOS 14.5 and then launch the Watch app on your iPhone, tap the My Watch tab at the bottom of the screen, then select General -> Software Update.