How to unlock your iPhone while wearing a face mask

A pedestrian wearing a protective mask uses his mobile phone as he passes an Apple iPhone advertisement at Orchard Road in Singapore.

Wei Leng Tay | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Apple has refined its facial recognition system to make it easier to unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask.

The tweak included in iOS 13.5, which was released on Wednesday, is subtle. Users with up-to-date software will now be able to enter their password or password when they swipe up and FaceID is not working. Previously, when Face ID could not identify a face, it tried again before displaying the access code screen, which caused a slight delay.

The new functionality is a sign that Apple is aware that its FaceID software, which has been a key selling point for new iPhones since 2017, is significantly less useful when people wear masks. The software cannot identify a face if its mouth and nose are covered, and newer iPhones do not have a fingerprint sensor.

Face masks are increasingly required as a condition for entering private businesses or for being in public in some states. The CDC says that masks can help prevent the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus even in people who don’t feel sick.

There is no setting you need to activate the new facial mask unlock feature – you just need to download the latest software to your iPhone, iOS 13.5, in Settings> General> Software update.

The update also includes the technology necessary for governments to create digital contact tracking and exposure notification applications that are designed to help track and slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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