Apple’s Face ID method for authentication on newer iPhones offers a number of security benefits and is a good trick to boot. In a pandemic-stricken world where many people either choose to wear protective masks or even have to wear them, users have found that Face ID usually doesn’t work when they need it. These masks interfere with the iPhone’s ability to read your face, and there is currently no easy solution.
That could change with the next version of iOS. This week, Apple released the third beta of iOS 13.5, the next major feature release for its mobile operating system. Among other things, the beta introduces new face detection behavior when users wear protective masks. Apple, of course, hasn’t come up with a magic way for the phone to read your face through the mask. Rather, the update speeds up the process of entering the passcode.
Now when you lift iPhone up for use, a quick scan will be done with the forward-facing TrueDepth sensor array, which will allow you to access your files, messages, and apps. If your face is covered, the lock indicator shakes and the phone vibrates, indicating that there is a problem. At the end of the face recognition time, you will be asked to swipe up to go to the screen where you can enter your passcode instead.
The beta version of iOS 13.5 skips one step. Now you have the option to swipe up and enter a passcode without having to wait for the face ID to end the error. This is particularly important for Apple Pay. Contactless payments are a great way to minimize direct contact during the pandemic, but Face ID made them an annoyance for mask wearers.
Apple hasn’t said when iOS 13.5 will be released and released to the public, but it’s probably not too far off at that point, given the timelines of previous updates. Not every feature shown in an iOS beta will be included in the final version, but this seems to be a necessary change, so it will likely get to the finish line.
iOS 13.5 will also introduce Apple’s Contact Tracking API, which is designed to help fight the Corona virus by tracking contact with people whose infection has been confirmed.