iPhone update will let people use Face ID with a mask

Andrew Griffin
Friday 28 January 2022 16:36

Apple will finally let people unlock their iPhone with FaceID even when they are wearing a mask.

The company says the feature uses “unique feature around the eye to authenticate” and check that the person using it really is its owner.

But it does not that the facial recognition features are “most accurate when it is set up for full-face recognition only” – and as such, using the new feature could mean either less security or frustration when the phone struggles to unlock with a mask on.

Calls for Apple to make it easier to unlock iPhones with a mask on have surged since the pandemic. Apple initially offered a feature that uses the Apple Watch to unlock the phone – but the new feature does not need that.

Instead, users switch on the ‘Use FaceID With a Mask” option and then the phone will scrutinise their eyes to make sure they are the right person.

Users can also “add glasses”, so that the iPhone can recognise the eyewear that its owner wears regularly. Apple notes that it does not work with sunglasses, presumably because they block off the facial recognition technology.

The feature can work alongside the unlock with Apple Watch feature, and they can be switched on and off separately.

It can also be used not just to unlock the phone but in other places where FaceID is required, such as Apple Pay and for passwords.

The new settings is present in iOS 15.4, which is currently in beta. It is expected to come to the public in the coming weeks.

The feature requires an iPhone 12 or 13, despite the fact the iPhone X and 11 also include facial recognition technology.

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