How to teach your iPhone to recognise you while wearing a mask

Trick does not work for some mask types, including N95 and ones with breathing valves

Chelsea Ritschel
Friday 10 April 2020 17:47
Comments
Hack shows how to use iPhone facial ID with mask on (Stock)
Hack shows how to use iPhone facial ID with mask on (Stock)

Cyber-security researchers have identified a hack that reportedly allows iPhone users to continue using their facial recognition while wearing a mask amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As the highly contagious virus continues to spread, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released new guidelines that encourage Americans to wear facial coverings when in public.

For iPhone users, this has meant being unable to use their face ID to sign in or do other functions on their phones, as the phone’s technology does not allow it to be unlocked if the mouth and nose are blocked.

However, according to researchers at Tencent Security's Xianwu Lab, who have been “studying biometrics for many years and have conducted in-depth analysis of Face ID,” there is a way to train your phone to recognise you with a mask on - and all it requires is a new mask.

According to the researchers, the first step is to take the mask and fold it over, before covering just one side of your face with it.

“Take a brand-new mask, fold it in left and right, fold the two ear hook ropes and hang them on one ear (both left and right ears),” the researchers state, according to a translation.

Once you’ve finished placing the mask over one side of your face, you need to pull up Face ID on your phone, and can either choose to “Reset Face ID” or set up an “alternate appearance”.

In the video, the researchers show how to set up the facial recognition by triggering a “round framing picture of face input”.

“If the face mask is displayed on the mobile phone, it means that the face mask is too much. You can gradually reduce the pulling force while observing the screen until the circular viewfinder image of the face mask is triggered,” they explain.

While the researchers note the technique has a high success rate, even with iPhone 11 models, they acknowledge that the hack may not work in some instances, and that, so far, it has not worked for other mask styles, including “ordinary disposable medical masks, N95 masks, masks with breathing valves, etc” - as only masks made of soft materials are reportedly usable.

If you did want to use a cup-shaped mask, they add that although the “three-dimensional cup-shaped mask cannot be folded, in theory, a similar entry operation can be performed by cutting in half”.

According to the CDC, cloth face coverings should be worn in "public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores or pharmacies."

You can watch a video explaining how to do the iPhone hack here.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in