Apple changes Face ID so users don’t have to remove masks

Apple has quietly introduced a new change to its Face ID feature so people wearing masks during the coronavirus pandemic don’t have to remove them to unlock their phones.

Face ID was introduced with the iPhone X, allowing users to unlock their iPhones using only their facial image instead of a fingerprint or a password.

However the face masks which have become so prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic are obscuring many of the details the iPhone uses to confirm identities.

As pointed out by @Sonikku_a2, if you’re wearing a mask, iOS 13.5 goes straight to the passcode screen if you try to unlock with Face ID (keypad not shown because iOS hides it in screen recordings)

— Guilherme Rambo (@_inside) April 29, 2020

Now, instead of fumbling around with the phone to try and access the passcode screen – which usually happens after Face ID fails to recognise a face multiple times – Apple is detecting if people are wearing a mask and automatically jumping them there.

This isn’t the only feature with Apple is working on to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

In a rare collaboration with Google, the technology giants are updating the iOS and Android mobile operating systems so they can use Bluetooth in the background and register when they come within close proximity of another mobile phone.

Coronavirus contact tracing apps - the problems and potential

Coronavirus contact tracing apps – the problems and potential

This feature will be essential for digital contact-tracing apps which will automatically record who people had been in close contact with and then alert them if one of those people turns out to be infected with the virus.

More from Apple

  • Apple reveals new £419 iPhone SE to capture mid-range market

  • Coronavirus: Concerns raised over Apple and Google’s contact-tracing technology

  • Apple planning ‘major 5G iPhone redesign’ for four new models – report

  • Coronavirus: Apple and Google phones to reveal if you’ve been near someone who has coronavirus

  • Oppo launches familiar looking ‘signature design’ smart watch

  • Apple agrees to pay $500m over claims it slowed down old iPhones

The company has also recently revealed its long-awaited cheaper device, the iPhone SE, bringing back the look of the iPhone 8 in red, white and black.

Reports had suggested that Apple’s plans to increase iPhone production and launch a cheaper model could be disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Apple’s quarterly financial results will be announced on Thursday.

The company previously warned investors it would not meet its financial targets due to the impact of the outbreak on production and sales in China.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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