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Apple set to unlock iPhones while wearing a mask

Opening an iPhone with Face ID can be a little frustrating with a mask, but Apple is almost ready with a fix.

Two years into the pandemic, if you’re an iPhone user, you’ve probably become quite familiar with punching in that password as quickly as you can when you needed to unlock your phone while out and about.

Whether signing in with a QR code, unlocking to pay for something with your phone, or just generally needing to use your phone, if you’ve been masked up, an iPhone hasn’t always wanted to play ball, and it’s not alone.

Nearly every facial security system on phones has struggled with our new required facial covering, and its ongoing use has given phone fingerprint readers the upper hand, pun intended. Thanks, coronavirus.

But Apple may well have a fix on the way, and it’s rolling out to a beta of iOS 15.4 at the moment, suggesting release is on the cards very soon.

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It’s part of a developer beta, so you won’t be able to get it as part of Apple’s public beta, at least not yet, but it’s a setting in test that will work with recent iPhone models, likely 2020’s iPhone 12 range — the iPhone 12, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max, and 12 Mini — plus the iPhone 13 models released last year, including the iPhone 13, 13 Mini, 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Up until this time, unlocking an iPhone while wearing a mask meant punching in your passcode or wearing an Apple Watch, the latter of which provided a form of unlock thanks in part to the proximity of the device to your iPhone.

It’s an update that’ll come alongside new emoji and Apple’s “Universal Control” feature, which will allow other devices in your Apple device ecosystem to be controlled with the same keyboard and mouse for your computer. Essentially, your mouse will be able to jump from one device to another, with the initial rollout effectively seeing Mac-connected peripherals jump between Mac and iPad.

As to when everyone will be getting this update, our guess is it should roll out of beta to iPhones within the next couple of months, but given we’ll be wearing our masks and socially distancing all year, it’s nice to see it arrive all the same.

Leigh :) Stark

A technology journalist working out of Sydney, Australia, Leigh has written for publications including The Australian Financial Review, Popular Science, APC, and more since 2007, appearing on ABC Radio and TV on Nine. Check out his most recent media appearances.

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