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Tests iOS 15.4’s new face ID with a mask function

Apple yesterday released iOS 15.4 beta and introduced a useful new feature that lets you unlock your iPhone with Face ID while wearing a mask. Face ID with a mask does not require hardware like an Apple Watch for authentication, and while it does make Face ID a little less secure, it is much more convenient in a world where many of us still wear masks on a regular basis.


After updating to iOS 15.4 on a compatible ‌iPhone‌, Face ID comes up with a mask as a setup option. You can activate it immediately with a new Face ID scan, and from there it's as easy to unlock your ‌iPhone‌ with Face ID while wearing a mask as it is without a mask.

Just swipe up the lock screen on your iPhone with your mask on and it will unlock as expected with Face ID. Face ID with a mask is almost identical to Face ID without mask, but it is not unlocked from unusual angles because direct eye contact is required. You need to look right on your iPhone for a Face ID with a mask to work, which is not always the case with standard Face ID.

If you did not enable the new Face ID feature in the setup after installing iOS 15.4, you can do so later under Settings> Face ID and password. You will also visit this section if you plan to wear glasses while also wearing a mask.

Eyeglass users will need to put on glasses, put on a mask and use the "Add glasses" feature to create a new Face ID scan that will let Face ID work with both face accessories. Face ID with a mask can not be used with sunglasses because the function must see your eyes.

Apple says that Face ID with a mask can "recognize the unique features around the eye" for authentication purposes. It's not as secure or as accurate as full-face recognition, but it's much more convenient, especially for ‌iPhone‌ users who do not own an Apple Watch for unlocking.

Unlike the Apple Watch Face ID feature, the Face ID with a mask is completely identical to the standard Face ID in terms of what can be authenticated. You can use Face ID with a mask for Apple Pay purchases and instead of a password in third-party apps.

Face ID with mask is available on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models. If you have an iPhone 11 or older, the feature will not be available to you. It's not clear if this is a temporary limitation, and it's possible that Apple plans to expand the feature to other devices in future beta versions.

Have you tried Face ID with a mask? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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