Thursday, Feb 03, 2022, 16:46 iOS: Software

iOS 15.4: Can I Use A Face Mask With Face ID? How To Set Up Face Masks With Face ID In iOS 15.4

By April 2020, the face mask became a daily health implement on the street. At first, masks really only seemed to be fashion accessories, however, they quickly evolved into increasingly complex, daily, medical implements – all with one thing in common: Up until now, face masks have been incompatible with Face ID. Exactly one year ago, Apple published iOS 14.5, improving the situation somewhat. Users wearing an Apple Watch were now enabled to unlock their phones without entering a pin-code. However, were someone to steal the iPhone out of the owner's bag – they would have been able to unlock it as long as they remained in the general vicinity of the Apple Watch wearing victim. iOS 15.4 should bring with it some improvements to Face ID, allowing users to now unlock their phones in public while wearing a face mask – whilst still providing clear user identification.

Eye Recognition?
Those who activate the optional "Mask Mode" will receive a message indicating that Face ID will now only use specific characteristics around the eyes to recognize users. Additionally, there's also an attention check – meaning that users who close their eyes won't be able to unlock their device. When in Mask Mode, Face ID will initiate a new facial scan which presumably scans the upper region of the face more precisely than the regular Face ID scan.



Face ID With Glasses – One Profile Per Model
For glasses users, the new Face ID gets a little confused when a different pair is used – and for this exact reason, users can now add new "glasses" to the scan similarly to adding fingerprints with touch ID on iPhone. After adding a new pair of glasses, users will be asked to scan the new pair in via a few familiar, circular head movements. The usage of sunglasses is, however, not supported. Apple indicates that eye contact is a necessary component of the new feature which is inhibited by very dark or reflective glasses.

Hardware Requirements
We already knew after the release of the first beta that a current iPhone is required for mask-supported Face ID. Neither the iPad nor the iPhone 11 or older support the feature and are in the list of unsupported devices. Only variants of the iPhone 12 and 13 support Face ID with Mask Mode.

Safety Considerations
Face ID will always be most reliable when the entire face is available for scanning. Exactly how much less accurate the new Mask Mode makes Face ID is thus far unknown. The first few tests posted on forums and on MacRumors have revealed that even close family members were not able to trick the system into unlocking their relatives' devices with Mask Mode turned on. The option to unlock devices via the Apple Watch is still available, however, there's really no use for it anymore on the iPhone 12 or 13.

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