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Apple tests software that lets users unlock their iPhone without removing their face mask

Mask-wearers with an unlocked Apple Watch can unlock their iPhone

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Photo (c) d3sign - Getty Images
As the pandemic wears on, Apple is testing a new way to let iPhone users unlock their phones without having to remove their face mask in public. 

The company is testing a new iOS 14.5 feature that allows people to get past their device’s face recognition security tool if they are also wearing an unlocked Apple Watch. 

“iPhone can use your Apple Watch to unlock when Face ID detects a face with a mask,” Apple said. “Your Apple Watch must be nearby, on your wrist, unlocked, and protected by a passcode.” 

Consumers must opt in

Users will be able to opt into the feature by going into "Settings" and then navigating to "Face ID & Passcode.” Once enabled, mask-wearers with an unlocked Apple Watch can look at their iPhone and the phone will be unlocked. Users will hear a buzz when the device has successfully been unlocked, and they can also re-lock their iPhone from their Apple Watch.

This is the second update that Apple has introduced to address changing consumer needs during the pandemic. Last spring, the tech giant released iOS 13.5 and made it easier to skip the Face ID prompt while wearing a mask by automatically displaying the passcode entry screen.

The latest version of iOS 14.5 is currently being beta tested by the public.

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