Apple’s iOS 14.5 beta is out, and with it comes the ability to get the Apple Watch to unlock your Face ID-protected phone if you happen to be wearing a mask. If you really want this feature right now, you need to download the latest iOS and watchOS betas – which have at least a small risk, since they are unfinished software. There are errors and the features may change between updates. There have been previous reports of bells being bricked by betas (although I did not find any for this release).
With all that said, I’ve been using the betas since they came out, and I have not noticed anything that seems particularly buggy. So if you̵
First, start by going to beta.apple.com on your iPhone. If you have never participated in a public beta before, you must press the sign-up button, and if you have, you can press the sign-in button.
After logging in, press the down arrow on the header and go to Register your devices. I highly recommend following Apple’s advice of backing up your device, as iCloud backups will not necessarily be available if you need to switch back from a beta. Apple explains how to create one on the Register page. Go on, I’m here when you get back.
After backing up your device, you can scroll down and press the Download profile button, and your phone will notify you that you need to review the profile before installing it.
Go to the watchOS section and download the profile for the watch.
Before we do, let’s grab the profile for the watch by scrolling up to the top and selecting WatchOS from the list. There you can press the Download profile button, then press Allow.
This automatically opens the Watch app, where you can tap Install. This will restart the clock, so while that happens, let’s install the phone’s profile by going to Settings, then Profile Downloaded.
There you can press the Install button and the phone will restart.
After downloading the profiles and restarting your devices, you will need to update your phone and then your watch. Unfortunately, you have to wait until the phone is up to date before you can even start the clock, so you can not multitask.
When you officially run iOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4, we can finally activate the unlock with the clock function.
Go to Settings> Face ID and Password and scroll down to the new Unlock with Apple Watch option. If you turn it on, the function turns on, there is nothing you need to do on the watch.
Now that you have installed it, this is what you can expect. First and foremost note that your phone is not looking for your face with a mask, it looks after one face with mask. With this feature on, if my wife was wearing a mask, she was able to unlock my phone without any problems if I was within three or so feet.
Apple’s mitigating effect on this is when the Apple Watch is used to unlock the phone, it buzzes you with a notification that your phone has been unlocked, along with a button to unlock it. By pressing that lock button, the phone is locked immediately and requires a password at the next unlock.
With that reservation out of the way, so far I have had great success with the feature. I tried it with a variety of stitches and it worked with them all for me. It is worth noting that it again looks for a face with a mask. This feature does not help you in the situation where the phone is on the table and you want to unlock it without the Face ID camera being able to see you.
For me, it is not a big advantage to not have to enter the password every time I want to check my grocery list while I shop, and worth what I consider to be relatively small security considerations. The feature may not be for those with super-secret information on their phones, but for everyone else it will be a nice improvement in the quality of life, whether you decide to go for it right now or wait for the official release.