iOS 13.5 Makes it Easy to Unlock iPhone When Wearing a Mask


Apple has released iOS 13.5 beta 3 with its first version of COVID-19 exposure notification API. The company also included a small but helpful change that makes it quicker for iPhone users with Face ID, to unlock their phones with a passcode.

With the new iOS 13.5 beta, any iPhone with Face ID can automatically detect when the user is wearing a mask, and instantly shows the passcode screen. This makes it easier for users to enter their passcode and unlock the device. All users need to do it to swipe up on the screen and Face ID will open the passcode user interface.

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Currently, users have to wait for Face ID to report an issue with authentication, before it gives an option to users to enter their passcode for verification.

Entering a passcode to unlock an iPhone is still not as convenient as using Face ID. Apple has not created an option where users can sacrifice the security of their device for a bit more convenience and unlock their phones even with a mask on. We doubt that Apple would do that as masks cover most of the face and it will make the authentication method insecure.

In such cases, people with Touch ID are far luckier as they can just press their finger on the home button to authenticate. Of course, there are instances where users might also be wearing gloves for protection so not all use cases can be covered by all authentication methods.

Apple has been testing iOS 13.4.5 for some time and had released two betas. With the announcement of COVID-19 contact tracing framework which is being built jointly by Google and Apple, for both Android and iOS, Apple had to update the iOS SDK to provide tools to developers to start work on their apps. The SDK update is the reason that Apple bumped up iOS version number to 13.5 instead of continuing with iOS 13.4.5.

For now, Apple has released the developer beta for iOS 13.5, along with Xcode 11.5. A public beta for iOS 13.5 should be available in a few days, while the public release is expected in a couple of weeks.