Being unable to unlock your iPhone with Face ID because you’re wearing a mask is a daily annoyance for many users. But now, thanks to new versions of iOS and watchOS, Apple Watch owners can finally do it without much hassle.
With iOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4, which became available yesterday, the iPhone got a new option under Settings – Face ID & Passcode, called “Unlock with Apple Watch”. If you turn it on, the iPhone will use your Apple Watch to unlock itself when Face ID detects you’re wearing a mask.
For it to work, your Apple Watch must be nearby and on your wrist; it also must be unlocked and protected by a passcode.
There’s a big caveat, however. As MacRumors notes, this works only to unlock the iPhone; it cannot be used to authenticate Apple Pay or App Store purchases. Given that my primary source of annoyance with the iPhone is not being able to authenticate Apple Pay at a cashier’s desk without removing my mask, I’d really like this to change in the future (security be damned).
Then again, if you have an Apple Watch, you can use it for Apple Pay instead of using the iPhone, so this probably won’t be too big of a deal for owners.
The feature was originally introduced in February with the iOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4 betas, but now is available to everyone — all you need to do is update your devices to the latest available version.