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How to unlock your iPhone with an Apple Watch in iOS 14.5

It’s now possible to use Face ID while wearing a face mask, if you have an Apple Watch on your wrist. Here’s how to set up the new iOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4 feature.

The feature, which lands as part of the iOS 14.5 update today, will allow Apple Watch uses to by-pass the Passcode input prompt that usually appears after a failed Face ID attempt.

Now, with the companion Apple Watch slapped on the wrist of the user, the Face ID attempt will be successful even when only a small fraction of the face is visible. You will have to enable the new setting in iOS 14.5, but it can be achieved in just a couple of taps.

Firstly, you’ll need to install iOS 14.5 by heading to Settings > General > Software Update. You can do this over the air, as always, provided you’re connected to Wi-Fi and have a decent amount of battery life.

You’ll also need to download watchOS 7.4, which also came out today. You can update your Apple Watch by tapping Settings > General > Software Update directly on an Apple Watch connected to Wi-Fi with over 50% of battery left.

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Once both operating systems are updated, you can enable the unlock feature quickly. Simply go to go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode and scroll down to the Unlock with Apple Watch. From there toggle the setting, which lists the name of your Apple Watch, to ‘On’

After that, the feature will be enabled. Users will see a notification explaining “Apple Watch will unlock iPhone when any mask is detected.” This is an important distinction. It is not looking for your face hidden behind a mask, just a mask itself.

Apple also explains that users will receive a haptic notification on their watch enabling them to re-lock the iPhone if they weren’t the ones who initiated the unlock. This is important because once the feature is enabled, anyone could pick up your phone while wearing a mask and unlock it, provided the Apple Watch is also nearby.


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