Monday, May 23News That Matters

Apple figures out how Face ID can work even if you’re wearing a mask

The newest update to Apple’s iOS includes a feature allowing mask wearers to unlock their phones, despite the barrier the masks pose to Face ID.

Face ID allows iPhone users to unlock their device simply by holding it up to their faces – but the COVID-19 pandemic has meant people’s faces are obscured most of the day.

Many iPhone users are finding this means they need to laboriously enter their passcodes every time they want to use their phone, potentially hundreds of times a day.

Health features are a major part of the new Apple Watch. Pic: Apple
Image: The workaround only works for people wearing an Apple Watch. Pic: Apple

Fortunately, Apple is now trialling a workaround in the beta testing of iOS 14.5 which began rolling out to developers on Monday, as spotted by gadget reviews site Pocket Lint.

Unfortunately the workaround is dependent upon the iPhone user also having an Apple Watch, the cheapest of which – the Series 3 – will set consumers back £195.

The Apple Watch unlock is already available for Mac users, when the devices are paired, and will only enable people to remove their iPhones from a locked state – it won’t authenticate them when using the App Store or making an iTunes purchase.

More from Apple

The move comes amid rumours that Apple will be bringing a Touch ID fingerprint reader to the iPhone 13, such as is included in the latest iPad Air, to offer two different biometric authentication methods.

Among the other features included in the update are support for Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 controllers, offering users the opportunity to play games on iPhone and iPad using those gadgets.

But the most significant change coming in iOS 14.5 is Apple’s new App Tracking Transparency (ATT) features, which have provoked outcry from Facebook.

This feature will give users what Facebook describes as “a discouraging prompt” if any apps such as Facebook’s attempt to track them or access their device’s advertising identifier.

Apple will display a prompt giving users a choice over app tracking
Image: Apple will display a prompt giving users a choice over app tracking

Facebook claimed the feature would harm app developers and small businesses, and that it was an anti-competitive measure designed to benefit Apple’s own advertising features.

Apple responded by saying it welcomed in-app advertising and was not prohibiting tracking, “simply requiring each app to obtain explicit user consent in order to track so that it will be more transparent and under user control”.

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