Apple yesterday released the iOS 15.4 beta and introduced a useful new feature that lets you unlock your iPhone with Face ID while wearing a mask. Face ID with a Mask does not require hardware like an Apple Watch for authentication, and though it makes Face ID a bit less secure, it is much more convenient in a world where many of us are still wearing masks on a regular basis.
After updating to iOS 15.4 on a compatible iPhone, Face ID with a Mask comes up as a setup option. You can enable it right away with a new Face ID scan, and from there, unlocking your iPhone with Face ID while wearing a mask is as easy as it is without a mask.
Just swipe up on the Lock Screen of your iPhone with your mask on and it will unlock as expected with Face ID. Face ID with a mask is almost identical to Face ID without a mask, but it's not going to unlock from unusual angles because direct eye contact is required. You need to be looking right at your iPhone for Face ID with a Mask to work, which isn't always the case with standard Face ID.
If you didn't enable the new Face ID feature at setup after installing iOS 15.4, you can do so later under Settings > Face ID & Passcode. You'll also want to visit this section if you plan to wear glasses while also wearing a mask.
Glasses wearers will need to put on glasses, put on a mask, and use the "Add Glasses" feature to create a new Face ID scan that will let Face ID work with both facial accessories. Face ID with a Mask cannot be used with sunglasses because the feature needs to see your eyes.
Apple says that Face ID with a mask can "recognize the unique features around the eye" for authentication purposes. It is not as secure or as accurate as full-face recognition, but it is much more convenient, especially for iPhone users who do not own an Apple Watch for unlocking.
Unlike the Apple Watch Face ID feature, Face ID with a Mask is fully identical to standard Face ID in terms of what can be authenticated. You can use Face ID with a Mask for Apple Pay purchases and in lieu of a passcode in third-party apps.
Face ID with a Mask is available on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models. If you have an iPhone 11 or older, the feature will not be available to you. It's not clear if this is a temporary restriction, and it's possible Apple could be planning to expand the feature to other devices in future betas.
Have you tried Face ID with a Mask? Let us know what you think in the comments below.