This article covers a new beta option in iOS that lets you unlock an iPhone with Face ID and an Apple Watch paired together, even if you're wearing a face mask. Read on to learn how it works.

FaceID Masked Blue copy
Apple introduced its Face ID facial recognition system in November 2017 with the launch of the ‌iPhone‌ X, offering users an even simpler way to unlock their smartphone than traditional fingerprint recognition.

Following the now-mainstream usage of face masks, however, Apple's biometric feature has been handicapped, leaving many users having to enter their passcode to unlock their device when in public spaces.

Fortunately, Apple has responded to this change in our everyday lives by introducing a new feature that allows ‌iPhone‌ users wearing an Apple Watch to unlock their smartphone via Face ID through a partial face scan, when they're wearing a mask.

The process is similar to how it works when unlocking a Mac with an Apple Watch. When the unlock happens, the user receives a haptic buzz and a notification on the Apple Watch informing them that the unlocking procedure has been successful. However, bear in mind that you can only use your Apple Watch to unlock your ‌iPhone‌ while wearing a mask – it can't be used for authenticating Apple Pay or App Store purchases.

Before you can take advantage of the new feature, you'll need to make sure that you're running either a developer beta or the public betas of iOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4. You'll need the ‌iPhone‌ and Apple Watch profiles from Apple's beta testing website, and after you have them installed, you can update on ‌iPhone‌ by going to Settings -> General -> Software Update. To update your Apple Watch, install iOS 14.5 and then launch the Watch app on your ‌iPhone‌, tap the My Watch tab at the bottom of the screen, then select General -> Software Update.

What You'll Need

  • ‌iPhone‌ X or later with Face ID
  • Apple Watch Series 3 or later
  • iOS 14.5 or later installed on ‌iPhone‌
  • watchOS 7.4 or later installed on Apple Watch

The iOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4 updates are currently available for both public beta testers and developers, with a public release expected this spring.

How to Set Up Unlock iPhone With Apple Watch

  1. Launch the Settings app on your ‌iPhone‌.
  2. Select Face ID & Passcode.
  3. Enter your ‌iPhone‌'s passcode.
  4. Scroll down to the section labeled "Unlock With Apple Watch" and toggle the switch next to Apple Watch to the green ON position. (If the option is greyed out, you need to update the version of watchOS on your Apple Watch.)
    settings

How to Unlock Your iPhone With Apple Watch

To use your Apple Watch to unlock your ‌iPhone‌, your watch needs to be nearby, on your wrist, unlocked, and protected by a passcode. If you haven't set up a passcode yet, launch the Watch app on your ‌iPhone‌, select Passcode -> Turn Passcode On, then enter the passcode you want to use (you'll have to do so twice to confirm.)

watch
The first time you attempt to unlock your ‌iPhone‌ with Apple Watch when wearing a mask, your ‌iPhone‌ will ask you to enter your passcode. Once you've done that, all subsequent attempts to unlock your ‌iPhone‌ when wearing a mask will be swift and seamless, with each successful unlock accompanied by a short haptic buzz on your wrist. You'll need to re-enter your passcode if you remove your watch and the first time you set it up each day.

Top Rated Comments

mi7chy Avatar
3 weeks ago

I get years with my tissot.
I get forever with my sundial.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
inigou Avatar
3 weeks ago

I get weeks with my Garmin.
I get years with my tissot.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Goldfrapp Avatar
3 weeks ago
“Your Apple Watch must be nearby, on your wrist”

I didn’t know it could be far away, on your wrist

?
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
VermontsFinest Avatar
3 weeks ago

If only the battery life in the Apple watch wasn't a dumpster fire of embarrassment
Idk I get 2 days pretty regularly... have never had an issue with watch battery life. Are you watching Netflix on it often?
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
krspkbl Avatar
3 weeks ago
i'm a healthcare (nhs) worker so wearing a mask most of the day. as soon as i saw that apple was testing this feature in a beta it was enough to convince me to get an Apple Watch. well, i was considering getting a watch but this sealed the deal for me. also i don't usually opt into beta software but i'll ride any bugs out. being able to have my phone unlock with a mask is worth it.

unlocking seems very reliable! it might be a tiny bit slower to unlock (i have no idea) but it's perfectly fine to use.

thanks apple!! ♥️
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RobArtLyn Avatar
3 weeks ago

I get forever with my sundial.
50% of forever, because, well, the whole nighttime thing.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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