Face ID has been a pain to use for many people for the past two years since it doesn’t operate with a face mask, but that will change in iOS 15.4, which is now available to developers and public beta testers.
Face ID with a Mask is now available in iOS 15.4, allowing you to unlock your iPhone using Face ID even when your face is hidden, making Face ID as convenient as it is without one.
How Face ID With a Mask Works
Face ID scans your Face area to verify your identity while the lower half of your face is hidden behind a mask. When you’re wearing a mask, Face ID recognizes the “unique traits” surrounding the eye area rather than looking at your full face, according to Apple.
Face ID operates the same way it does while you’re wearing a mask as it does when you’re not. The iPhone unlocks with a Face ID scan when you swipe up on the display. Face ID with a mask works in the same way as conventional Face ID, so your phone will recognize you whether you’re wearing a mask or not.
In practically every way, a Face ID with a mask is the same as a conventional Face ID, although there are a few more setup steps to go through, and it doesn’t work with sunglasses. Face ID with a Mask requires a clear view of your eyes before it can unlock, thus there are a few more restrictions with unlocking angles.
Face ID with a Mask: How it is Setup
When you update to iOS 15.4, you’ll be requested to complete a built-in Face ID with the Mask setup process. It’ll ask you to complete a 3D facial scan, just like the initial Face ID setup process.
You can always turn it on later if you neglect this step. Toggle on the “Use Face ID Using a Mask” option in the Settings app, go to Face ID & Passcode, verify with a passcode, and open the Face ID & Passcode app.
You’ll need to go through a second setup step if you use glasses.
Because Face ID with a Mask scans the eye area, any glasses you wear must be added on a case-by-case basis. You’ll need to scan each pair of glasses if you have more than one.
To begin the process of adding your glasses, click here. Open the Settings app, select Face ID & Passcode, enter a passcode, and then select “Add Glasses.”
After that, you’ll need to put on your spectacles and perform another Face ID scan, which is the same as any other Face ID scan in that it requires you to rotate your head in a circle to scan from numerous angles.
Sunglasses are not supported.
Face ID with a Mask, unlike conventional Face ID, does not operate when you’re wearing most sunglasses. Direct eye contact is required for Face ID with a Mask to work because sunglasses hide the eyes.
Face Authentication with a Mask
Face ID works the same way while you’re wearing a mask as it does when you’re not. Face ID may be used to unlock your iPhone, validate Apple Pay purchases, and replace a passcode for third-party apps. This is in sharp contrast to Apple’s “Unlock With Apple Watch” feature, which was included in iOS 14.5 last year but does not allow for transaction authentication.
Limitations of the Device
Only the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models have Face IDs with a Mask. iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max are all compatible.
It is not compatible with older iPhones or iPad. Apple has not stated whether there is a physical barrier that prevents the Face ID mask unlock from working on older iPhone models.
Implications for Security
Face ID is “most accurate” when set up for full-face recognition alone, according to Apple, but it’s unclear whether a partial facial analysis has security repercussions.
We haven’t been able to get an iPhone to unlock by someone wearing a mask in our testing, but it doesn’t rule out the possibility, especially in families where the area surrounding the eyes is similar.
Apple hasn’t gone into great detail about how the Face ID with a Mask feature differs from standard Face ID, but it hasn’t expressly stated that it is less secure.
Apple Watch Face ID Unlock
Face ID with a Mask does not substitute the pre-existing Unlock with Apple Watch feature, and the two may be used together, but because the iPhone defaults to Face ID with a Mask, there’s no reason to leave it on unless you want not to use Face ID with a Mask.
Unlock with Apple Watch used to be the sole way to unlock an iPhone while wearing a mask, but it’s now more limited and doesn’t work with third-party apps or Apple Pay purchases. For those using an iPhone 11 or before, it remains the sole alternative.