Face Mask Unlock in iOS 14.5

We’re getting closer to the release of iOS 14.5, and it’s adding a feature that Apple Watch owners are going to dig. Specifically, if you are wearing a face mask and an Apple Watch, you’ll still be able to unlock your iPhone without using a passcode.

Once you turn the feature on, the iPhone has some new unlock logic:

  1. Is the user wearing a face mask?
    No – Go to the usual Face ID unlock.
    Yes – Go to step 2.

  2. Does the user have a connected, unlocked Apple Watch very close to the phone?
    Yes – Unlock.
    No – Go to the passcode unlock.

So, if you are wearing a face mask and you have an unlocked Apple Watch in very close proximity (less than 1 meter) to your phone, you get an unlock. In that event, you also get a prompt on your wrist letting you lock the phone back up. Interestingly, that step 1 looks for any person with a face mask. It doesn’t try to figure out if it is specifically you wearing a face mask. John Gruber did all the research on the beta build and reports in further detail.

I plan on turning this feature on once the update ships. I am so tired of tapping in my passcode when using my phone while masked.