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Covid-19: Apple tweaks Face ID to let you unlock iPhone wearing face mask

Shubham Verma     April 30, 2020

Apple is one of the Big Tech giants that is making efforts to alleviate the problems caused by the covid-19 pandemic. In addition to its monetary contributions, Apple is also developing new solutions for its customers to make access easier for them. The company is now testing what could be the most useful solution for iPhone customers. In the latest iOS beta, Apple has enhanced the lock screen authentication, making it easier for frontline workers who need to be outside their homes and access their iPhones.

The iOS 13.5 beta is now available to download on the eligible iPhone models. Although not every iPhone user can install it, it is still a welcome change for the users who are living in odd times. Apple has facilitated the authentication process to unlock the iPhone with a small change. Instead of removing the face mask to let Face ID recognise your face, you will now see a manual passcode screen to quickly unlock the screen.

The Face ID is designed in a way that needs a full scanning of the face with eyes open. Since wearing a face mask or draping cloth on nose and mouth has become a normal practice during the covid-19 pandemic, Face ID struggles to recognise the face with a cover on face.

With iPhone X, Apple ditched the Home button, and consequently Touch ID, for Face ID as the new biometric authentication for iPhone and iPad. The Face ID has been touted as a securer way of unlocking the iPhone or authenticating payments and other activities that need explicit permission of the user. In the lack of Touch ID on iPhone X and above, users have to wait for the passcode screen to pop up, precisely 10-15 seconds, after the facial scanning remains unsuccessful for when their faces are covered.

If there is a hurry, users are compelled to uncover their faces to let Face ID do its job -- which could be potentially unsafe for them as the scientists believe coronavirus enters through mouth and nose of a person promptly. With a manual passcode screen that is immediately available on the lock screen, users will have some respite in unlocking their iPhone. Of course, the user will need to touch the screen more than they would when Face ID is working, but that should be done to minimise the risk of having to remove the face mask.


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