Travel Tech

New iPhone Update Will Let You Unlock Your Phone with a Mask On – with a Catch

Written by Charlie

If you are trying to unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask, it may soon get a little bit easier to get this done! This is a welcome change – but you will need one more piece of Apple gear to make it happen.

Since the suggested (and mandatory) use of masks became a thing about a year ago, the welcome tech of cell phone companies to let you unlock your phone with a facial scan all of a sudden became problematic. Especially for those who needed to keep masks on all day long, it made people have to start entering their passcodes again – even for quick little tasks that we would normally just press the notification of before. But, an update is coming!

New iPhone Update Lets You Unlock While Masked – If…

Last year, Apple had released an update that would bring up the passcode screen much quicker if it couldn’t detect your face for the scan. This was something that helped save a second or so but was really a patch to the larger authentication problem. At least it was a problem for all of those users who had an iPhone X or newer as the older iPhones (like iPhone 8 and below) utilized the fingerprint scan tech so those users were still good to go.

Now, it seems, Apple is getting ready to release a new update that will answer the facial scan authentication problem in a little bit different of a way. In upcoming iOS 14.5 update (currently in developer beta), your iPhone will unlock via Face ID even when wearing a mask. The catch? It will only work if you are also wearing an Apple Watch.

The way this works is that your Apple Watch is already in a secure mode since you need to keep it on your wrist to allow actions without using a passcode. Since this is already working for the Watch, it will sense the near proximity of your iPhone and let it unlock with a slightly less secure scan of your obscured face, presumably using shape and rough contours instead of the actual face. This will still be secure since you have to be wearing an Apple Watch tied to the phone and you have to look at your iPhone while it is being unlocked.

The Apple Watch will already let you automatically login to your Mac when you try to get into it so this would be just one more way to make it convenient to wear an Apple Watch. (For the record, my Garmin remains my daily driver!).

But, this fix will not (according to Engadget) work for some things like approving an purchase using Apple Pay or an App Store purchase. No note yet on when this may be here but it should be available as a public beta in the coming weeks and then, all things looking up, it will be available to download to your iPhone after that.

Slight Workaround?

Now, I honestly do not know if this is just my face or if it may work for everyone. But, I have noticed when my mask is just over the end of my nose, it will activate Face ID. Try it for yourself – have your mask right to the end of the nose so that your iPhone will still identify the 3D makeup of your nose and it may unlock it. This isn’t ideal but it can work if you need to keep your mask up and still want to use Face ID.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.