Apple testing new Face ID feature for mask wearers

Apple is working on a new Face ID feature that will make it easier for people wearing masks during the pandemic to unlock their smartphones.

Several insiders revealed on Thursday that the developer version of iOS 13.5 includes a new update that forces the lock screen to jump to a passcode input when an iPhone detects the presence of a mask.

Currently, users have to either remove their masks to confirm their identity or swipe up to input a passcode.

Apple believes that Face ID “revolutionises authentication”, but the drawbacks of the tech have become more apparent since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Health workers, in particular, risk exposing themselves to the virus if and when they need to unlock their phones, which usually happens dozens of times each day.

The problem has also led some to point out the benefits of Touch ID, the previous system that Apple used, which is included in the recently launched iPhone SE.

Fortunately, Apple has been quick to recognise the issue and has now included a tweak to the Face ID feature in the latest beta for its mobile OS.

Apple has yet to confirm that it will make its way into the final version of iOS 13.5, but there is a pretty good chance that it will when it rolls out in May.

Apple is also finalising plans for the new contact tracing API that it has been working on with Google during the last month or so.

The new API will help national health authorities to enforce social distancing and notify users who have come into contact with somebody with symptoms of coronavirus.

Apple also recently started distributing face shields to frontline health workers in the US and wants to ramp up production so that 1m units can be manufactured every week.

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About the author


I've been a passionate evangelist for Apple and the Macintosh throughout my working life, my first love was a Quadra 605 working with a small creative agency in the south of Norfolk UK in the mid 1990's, I later progressed to other roles in other Macintosh dominated industries, first as a Senior graphic designer at a small printing company and then a production manager at Guardian Media Group. As the publishing and printing sector wained I moved into Internet Marketing and in 2006 co-founded which grew to become one the top 200 visited sites in the US (according to Quantcast), at its peak receiving over 15 million visits per month. For the last ten years I have worked as an Affiliate and Consultant to many different business and start ups, my key skill set being online marketing, on page monetisation, landing page optimisation and traffic generation, if you would like to hire me or discuss your current project please reach out to me here.

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