Apple Releases Third watchOS 7.4 Public Beta With iPhone Unlocking Feature

Apple today seeded the third beta of an upcoming watchOS 7.4 update to public beta testers, with the new beta coming two weeks after the second public beta and a day after the release of the third developer beta.

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The ‌watchOS 7‌.4 update can be downloaded after upgrading your iPhone to the public beta version of iOS 14.5. After installing iOS 14.5, the watchOS 7.4 software should show up, as long as you have the proper profile from Apple's beta software website. To update to the new software, the ‌Apple Watch‌ needs to have 50 percent battery life, it must be placed on the charger, and it must be in range of the ‌‌‌‌‌‌‌iPhone‌‌‌‌‌‌‌.

Alongside iOS 14.5, watchOS 7.4 introduces a new "Unlock with Apple Watch" feature that lets an ‌iPhone‌ with Face ID use an unlocked and authenticated Apple Watch as a secondary authentication measure when you're wearing a mask, alleviating the need to enter a passcode to unlock the ‌iPhone‌.

iphone apple watch unlock
‌Face ID‌ does not work when wearing a mask, but this new Apple Watch feature provides an easy but still secure way to access the ‌iPhone‌ without the hassle of a passcode. It's similar to the Apple Watch unlocking on Mac and can be enabled in the Settings app under ‌Face ID‌ & Passcode.

An unlocked Apple Watch paired with ‌Face ID‌ can unlock the ‌iPhone‌ when a mask is worn, but it's only for mask usage. The Apple Watch cannot be used to authenticate Apple Pay or App Store purchases, nor can it be used to unlock apps that require a ‌Face ID‌ scan. In these situations, the mask will need to be removed or a passcode/password will need to be used instead.

iphone apple watch unlock 2
When the Apple Watch unlocks the ‌iPhone‌, you'll feel a haptic tap on the wrist and will receive a notification on the watch, similar to how it works when using the watch to unlock a Mac.

For those who use Apple Fitness+, the watchOS 7.4 update combined with iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 enables AirPlay 2 for Apple Fitness+, so workouts can be streamed to an ‌AirPlay‌ 2-enabled TV or set-top box. Apple Watch metrics do not show up on the screen when AirPlayed, however, and that feature is limited to ‌iPhone‌/iPad/Apple TV.

watchOS 7.4 is going to be available in a beta capacity for several weeks, with Apple planning to release the update in the early spring.

Related Roundup: watchOS 10
Related Forum: Apple Watch

Top Rated Comments

SFjohn Avatar
41 months ago

Unlocking your phone with your watch is a great feature. But I feel like that feature is way too late. Cause most of the states will start opening up again. And the need for that fea will be moot.
Once your vaccinated you can still catch and spread it. It will be a long time before everyone is vaccinated, if ever. Yes, even in the good old USA. We will be wearing masks for the next year at least.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sclawis300 Avatar
41 months ago

Works half of the time, but I’m not sure I’m taking this feature for too long: it unlocks the phone if someone is looking at it. Meaning, anybody (from legal security personnel to bad actors) could force their easy way into my phone without me exercising my rights.
They can force you to use a finger print or look at it to open it without your permission too. Password is the only way to go.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
G.McGilli Avatar
41 months ago
I've been using watch unlock a hundred times a day in NYC and it's been flawless as long as you look at the faceid camera. if it can't see my eyes - or if I use a hand etc instead of a mask it doesn't work for me. Seems to detect that you are looking at the phone and have a mask or similar on.

That it took this long for this feature is insane... can never go back to not having it now.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jsamuelson Avatar
41 months ago

Series 3 battery has been noticeably worse for me on these betas. Anyone else notice that?
Latest beta is much better, thankfully.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ErikGrim Avatar
41 months ago
Series 3 battery has been noticeably worse for me on these betas. Anyone else notice that?
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Peepo Avatar
41 months ago
The first beta worked with mask to unlock reliabley, last one was hit and miss. Hopefully when I install this later it will be consistent again.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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