Apple’s iOS 14.5 Has A Feature That Allows Users To Unlock iPhones While Wearing Masks, Provided An Apple Watch Is In The Vicinity

The iOS 14.5 beta version for developers has revealed some rather interesting morsels of information. Particularly, a new feature has been introduced that allows iPhones to Face ID their users while wearing masks, provided an Apple Watch is at their disposal.

Face ID’s easily been one of the most talked about innovations that Apple’s brought about. It’s surprisingly effective functioning, recognizing users and differentiating between them with almost cunning precision has been a big draw-in for both the company’s own dedicated user-base, as well as the general community at large. Of course, with the COVID-19 pandemic upon people, and wearing masks being a habit that every news outlet and major company was imploring people to adopt, Face ID faced some impedance. No matter how accurate the AI may be, one can only recognize a face that can be, well, seen. However, it seems that Apple has finally figured out a work-around, utilizing another of their own products for the process.

The feature is enabled via the Settings menu in 14.5 by allowing Apple Watch connectivity in the Face ID submenu. Having conducted that, the solution engineered by tech wizards boils down to a process so simple, it’s almost admirable. Looking into one’s Apple device while wearing the Apple Watch will simply unlock the phone, as the former will register the presence of the latter. Note how this author took the liberty of stating how it’s “almost” admirable. Laugh track ensues, curtain falls.

On a more serious note, the presence of this feature is rather disappointing, if nothing else. While one should not set expectations too high for the iOS 14.5, which is really an off-shoot of iOS 14 as opposed to being its own new software, there are still quite a few holes one can poke in the system. Other than the rather shameless self-plug of requiring one expensive Apple product in order to activate another (but that’s rather standard business practice), reliance on passcodes or even slipping one’s mask down for a brief instance seem to be more practical in application. Not to mention that, while mere speculation, this could leave one’s iPhone vulnerable to other individuals with an Apple Watch. The feature makes no mention of recognizing specific watches or facial features, which theoretically could mean that anyone with a mask and an Apple Watch could unlock an iPhone with the feature activated.

Then again, this is a purely speculative weakness, and one this author is sure that Apple’s developers have not overlooked. The iOS 14.5 is currently in closed beta, available only to developers that are no doubt further working on it in order to ensure the best possible outcome. All purported features arising from the new OS could look very different by the time of actual launch, and thus criticism should be well-guarded.

H/T: 9to5Mac.

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