Apple will finally let you unlock your iPhone with Face ID while wearing a mask, but only if you have an Apple Watch

Apple will finally let you unlock your iPhone with Face ID while wearing a mask, but only if you have an Apple Watch
Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
  • Apple's latest software update will let you unlock your iPhone with Face ID while wearing a mask.
  • But there's a catch: You'll need an Apple Watch to use the feature.
  • Your iPhone will detect if your Apple Watch is nearby to unlock it if you have a mask on.

Apple's new software update will let you unlock your iPhone using Face ID when you're wearing a mask - but only if you have an Apple Watch.

That's because the iPhone will need to communicate with your Watch to verify that it's you, since it can't detect your entire face. If your Apple Watch is near you and unlocked, your iPhone will then also unlock.

To change the settings in your iPhone to enable the new pandemic-era feature, first update your device to run iOS 14.5, which became available on Monday. Then, navigate to "Face ID & Passcode" and then enable "Unlock with Apple Watch."

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Apple did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Read more: The battle between Facebook and Apple over privacy is about more than just ads - it's about the future of how we interact with tech


The latest iOS update also includes Apple's "App Tracking Transparency" feature, which will require app developers to ask for permission to collect and track users' data across their devices. Many developers took issue with the feature when it was announced in September, prompting Apple to delay it to 2021 to give more time to prepare for the update.

In December, Apple also rolled out information privacy labels that tell users how apps are collecting information about them as part of its privacy crackdown.

The new feature has angered Facebook in particular since it directly impacts the social media giant's lucrative ad business, which relies upon data tracking to inform its algorithm that decides which ads to put in front of online users. Facebook has argued that Apple's new feature will adversely impact small businesses since they rely heavily on personalized ads.

Facebook took out full-page ads in The New York Times in December blasting Apple's privacy crackdown.

"Without personalized ads, Facebook data shows that the average small business advertiser stands to see a cut of over 60% in their sales for every dollar they spend," read one of Facebook's ads.


The two companies have a long-standing rivalry, with both taking aim at each other over business practices. Apple accused Facebook of showing a "disregard for user privacy" and Facebook has accused Apple of charging "monopoly rents" in its App Store.