Face ID is Apple’s stellar biometric authentication system for the iPhone and iPad Pro. Apple first introduced Face ID with the iPhone X back in 2017, replacing the beloved Touch ID that was then-standard on iPhones.
At the time the move was highly controversial because facial authentication systems on previous Android smartphones always, well sucked. But Face ID was different. It just worked. And since then hundreds of millions of iPhones (and now iPads) have shipped with the tech and users of it couldn’t ever think about going back to Touch ID.
Face ID In The Time Of COVID-19
Well, that is, until the COVID-19 pandemic came along. But how does a pandemic impact Face ID? It does quite a bit for those using face masks when out and about. You see, Face ID won’t work if you have a face mask on. Yes, even if you try to register your face in Face ID’s setup while wearing a face mask.
This is a good thing because you wouldn’t want someone to be able to cover 75% of their face and still get into your iPhone.
The reason Face ID doesn’t work with face masks is that Face ID doesn’t just rely on an image of your face to authenticate you. It also relies on the depth of your facial features, like your eyes, nose, lips, and cheeks. Face masks block Face ID’s depth sensors from reading these features, making it not work.
So, How Do I Use Face ID With A Face Mask?
As of now, you can’t. However, you can quicken the pace that you can unlock your Face ID-enabled iPhone with a face mask on.
You see, when you are wearing a face mask and take out your iPhone and try to unlock it using Face ID by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, Face ID will take several seconds trying to read your face before it presents you with the PIN number pad, which allows you to log into your device without using Face ID.
However, the time it takes your iPhone to bypass Face ID and go right to the PIN number pad can be a bit of a wait. However, you can get around this…
Here’s what to do. If you have a face mask on and swipe up on your iPhone to unlock the device using Face ID, simply tap the “Face ID” text on the iPhone’s screen when it’s trying to read your face. This will immediately bring up the number pad where you can enter your PIN code.
Sure, it’s not the best solution, because you still can’t unlock your iPhone with Face ID while wearing a face mask, but it does allow you to get to that PIN number pad screen much faster without having to wait.
iOS 13.5 Will Help Improve Things
And things are set to get even better when Apple released iOS 13.5 later this month. That’s because Apple is building in the ability for the iPhone to detect when a user is wearing a face mask and instead of trying to unlock the phone with Face ID, it will simply display the number pad PIN screen right away.
This means you’ll no longer have to try (and fail) to unlock your iPhone with Face ID while wearing a face mask before you are presented with the number pad PIN screen.
It’s not the most ideal workaround, but at least it lets you get into your iPhone much faster than you’ve been able to while wearing a face mask.
Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.