iPhone Phones Software

How do I unlock my iPhone with my Apple Watch when wearing a mask?

Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash

With the release of iOS 14.5, Apple have added the ability to use Face ID (available on iPhone X and later) even when wearing a mask. This would have been nice to have a year ago, as I’ve now spent a good 12 years standing in line at Asda, exasperated as my sausage fingers try and get my long pin number correct whilst my glasses steam up. But I guess later is better than never.

However, and as the title of this article suggests, to do this you do need to be the owner of an Apple Watch. Why? Because Apple is using that as a confirmation that you really are the phone’s owner and not somebody just trying to trick you way onto it.

When you wear a face mask, it blocks enough of your face that it makes Face ID tricky. By also confirming your presence via your Watch, Apple ensure that your security isn’t compromised.

What do I need?

  • An iPhone, or later, with Face ID
  • iOS 14.5 or later
  • An Apple Watch Series 3, or later, with passcode protection switched on
  • WatchOS 7.4 or later

A Passcode?

Your Apple Watch must have Passcode switched on or anyone could be wearing it.

If you don’t have this set-up already, head into the Watch app on your phone and select “Passcode” and then “Turn Passcode On”. It will then take you through the rest of the set-up.

Now, every time you take your Watch off, it will prompt you for a passcode before you can use it again.

How do I set up iPhone unlocking with Apple Watch?

Assuming you have everything from the above list of requirement, you’ll need to set this up.

  1. On your iPhone, go into “Settings”
  2. Select “Face ID & Passcode”.
  3. Enter your ‌iPhone‌’s passcode.
  4. Scroll down to the section labeled “Unlock With Apple Watch” and switch on the toggle next to “Apple Watch” (it will turn green when on). If the option is greyed out, you still need to update your Apple Watch.

You’re all set – now, when your face is obscured by a mask, it will use your unlocked Apple Watch to ensure it’s you, and allow you in. Enjoy!

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About the author

David Artiss

Works for Automattic Inc., the company behind WordPress.com and Tumblr. Tech geek, international speaker and occasional PC Pro podcaster. Lover of Lego and video games.

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