03 February 2021

Engadget: “iOS 14.5 will let Apple Watch owners unlock iPhones while wearing a mask”

There is, unfortunately, one major caveat: the feature only works if iPhone’s owner is also wearing an Apple Watch. So long as the Watch itself is already unlocked, you’ll just need to look at your iPhone as usual; after that, you’ll get a haptic buzz on your wrist letting you know that the unlock was successful. As we understand it, the feature — which must be manually enabled before use — allows Face ID to proceed with an unlock despite much lower facial recognition accuracy because the nearby Watch has already been authenticated. You’ll also be able to lock your phone from your Apple Watch, though it’s worth noting that all other actions that might rely on a face unlock — like, say, approving an App Store purchase — can’t be handled this way.

Given the need for frequent mask use, Apple has attempted to address this issue last May with an update that prompts Face ID to more quickly kick users into their passcode input screen when their faces are obscured. While a good idea in theory, the change wasn’t particularly elegant in practice — users have frequently been left waiting while iOS seemingly decides what to do. With all of this in mind, it’s little surprise that Apple is reportedly testing optical in-display fingerprint sensors that could debut in iPhones as soon as this year.

Chris Velazco

These days, Apple’s solution to each and every problem people have boils down to: purchase another Apple product! This is especially true for problems Apple themselves introduced through previous design decisions: headphone jack removed ▶ buy AirPods; included iPhone charger removedbuy a separate one; all MacBook ports except USB-C removed ▶ buy Apple dongles; and now TouchID removed, coupled with ubiquitous face masks ▶ buy an Apple Watch! Zero empathy for people who may have lost jobs or income this past year during the pandemic. But hey, it’s a great way to make money and improve stock market performance!

Meanwhile, on my Samsung phone I have no issues unlocking because it has iris scan, which works perfectly fine when I wear a mask, and fingerprint scanning. These methods may be less secure than an iPhone, but also more convenient and reliable under diverse circumstances. On top of that, Samsung actually lowered their flagship prices this year – you won’t see Apple doing that… With each new Apple announcement, I am happier with my decision to quit that ecosystem for good.

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