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Unlocking Your iPhone While Wearing a Mask Will Get Easier With Upcoming iOS Update

The change, spotted in the 13.5 beta release, will help users avoid unnecessary hassle.

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This story originally appeared on PCMag

The pandemic is prompting Apple to make a change to the company’s Face ID technology: If the system detects you wearing a mask, your iPhone will ask for your passcode rather than needlessly scan your face a few more times. 

Vyacheslav ProkofyevTASS via Getty Images via PC Mag

The tweak, spotted in the iOS 13.5 beta 3 release, will help users avoid unnecessary hassle when unlocking an iPhone while wearing a mask. 

Currently, the Face ID technology will stop and stutter when it can’t fully see your face, which can produce an annoying delay. The system will then give up and ask you for the six-digit passcode. However, on Wednesday, app developers began noticing a change in the iOS 13.5 beta release that promises to fix the problem. If the system detects you wearing a mask, it’ll skip the Face ID system, and instead send you directly to the six-digit passcode screen. 

Apple is adding the Face ID tweak as many cities in the U.S. have been requiring residents to wear a mask when venturing outside their homes. Although the change is small, it'll help users keep their masks on, limiting potential exposure to COVID-19. This can be especially important if you need to access your iPhone in a grocery store or pharmacy, where people are more prevalent. 

Related: UK Rejects Apple-Google Contact-Tracing System

The iOS 13.5 beta release is currently only available through Apple’s developer portal, so it may take a few weeks before it arrives publicly to mainstream iPhone users. If you can’t wait, iPhone users in China say Face ID can actually be configured to recognize your mask-wearing face. The trick involves registering your face again with a new profile on Face ID, except this time partially covering parts of your cheek and mouth during the configuration process. However, the solution comes at the cost of security; it'll enable a person with the same face shape as yours to potentially unlock your iPhone.

Michael Kan

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Michael has been a PCMag reporter since October 2017. He previously covered tech news in China from 2010 to 2015, before moving to San Francisco to write about cybersecurity.