Posted on May 28, 2020
How to unlock your phone using Face ID while wearing a face mask
We all know that wearing a face mask during the pandemic is important. It keeps everyone safer and reduces virus transmission. The CDC recently released updated guidance recommending that everyone wear a face mask in public places, in addition to maintaining social distancing. Wearing a mask is also an act of love and shows respect for your community, health care workers and vulnerable populations.
But wearing a face mask can pose a unique problem: unlocking your Face ID-enabled phone.
Since much of your lower face is covered with your mask, your device might have a difficult time recognizing you and unlocking itself. Here are some tips to unlock your phone while wearing a face mask.
Preferred: Update your iOS version
You could remove your mask every time you want to unlock your phone (we don’t recommend this), but since users unlock their phones 80 times per day on average, removing your mask in public and repeatedly touching your face that many times is probably out of the question.
So how can you use Face ID in public without removing your face mask? Well, Apple recently updated its iOS operating system to help solve the problem. Prior to the update, users would need multiple failure attempts to unlock their devices with Face ID before receiving a prompt to enter a passcode.
With the iOS 13.5 update, Apple included an automatic mask detection feature to help you unlock your phone. If your device recognizes that you’re wearing a mask, it will prompt you to swipe up so you can enter your pass code. This new “swipe up” feature is also available if your device does not recognize that you’re wearing a mask, too.
To update your device to the most recent iOS version, go to Settings > General > Software Update.
Quick note: You may have also seen some conspiracy theories floating around the internet about another feature included in iOS 13.5, the COVID-19 Exposure API, stating that Apple is sending your private information to government entities. This feature is currently disabled in your device and will only be available if and when public health officials or governments create contact tracing apps in the future that you choose to download and use.
Alternate: Train your phone to recognize your mask (maybe)
You can try to reset your Face ID settings or set up an alternate appearance with your mask on, but you might get an error message saying that your face is obstructed. Researchers in China discovered a half-face/half-mask method that could work, but others have not found it very reliable.
We haven’t tried this method for ourselves, so we can’t vouch for its effectiveness. The folks at 9to5mac detail some possible steps you can take if you’d like to reset your Face ID or set up an alternate appearance using this half-and-half method.
While neither of these solutions are perfect, the first option is the most reliable method right now if you’d like to safely unlock your phone with Face ID without removing your face mask in public.
Have you tried these methods or do you have other ideas to use Face ID while wearing a face mask? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.