Apple Watch owners have a new option to easily unlock their iPhones when wearing a face mask. The global pandemic has made it more difficult to unlock iPhones using Face ID, given that the TrueDepth camera looks to match an entire face. With the mouth and nose covered, this process mostly ends up with the user entering a passcode. Some have tried to train their iPhones to recognize a mask, but there is a more secure way.
Once configured, your Apple Watch can help to quickly unlock your iPhone. The Apple Watch must be running watchOS 7.4 or later and be paired to the iPhone you're trying to unlock. Your iPhone must be running iOS 14.5 or later. To get new releases of iOS ahead of the general public, join the Apple Beta Software Program.
Set up Unlock With Apple Watch
- On the iPhone with iOS 14.5 or later, navigate to Settings -> Face ID & Passcode
- Enter your passcode if needed
- Toggle the Unlock With Apple Watch switch to ON (green slider)
Using Unlock With Apple Watch
- Start the process of using Face ID normally
- Enter your passcode
- From now on, the Apple Watch will unlock your iPhone and deliver haptic feedback
- If the watch is removed from your wrist or the iPhone is rebooted, your passcode is required
Note that any transactions such as purchases must be confirmed with a complete Face ID authorization. This means the mask must come off or the passcode entered, as the Apple Watch cannot approve these actions.