Gadgets for humans

Apple to make unlocking with a face mask easier in iOS 13.5 — but I just want Touch ID back


header image unlock face mask touch id iphone

Now face masks are a thing across the world, we’re having to adapt. While they’re great for public health and fighting coronavirus, there’s one way they make life tricker: Unlocking our phones.

Is this a big complaint in the grand scheme of things? Of course not. But little things like unlocking with a face mask do still matter — especially when they’re a fucking arseache.

Thankfully, Apple has been listening. The iOS 13.5 developers’ beta includes a workaround that will make unlocking your iPhone with a face mask easier. Well, when it’s released to the public that is.

Reported by CNBC, the workaround involves users being able to swipe up to input their device passcode immediately. Currently, there’s a short delay when an iPhone is presented with an unreadable face. Which is annoying as hell.

The update, when rolled out, will look something like this:

Of course, one option is simply turning off Face ID — something you can learn how to do here — but that’s pretty annoying, especially if you want to use the unlocking tech at home when you’re not wearing a mask.

But… do you know what could’ve made this much better? If Apple didn’t get rid of Touch ID on its flagship phones.

Look, I understand why Apple ditched the physical fingerprint button. As cool as the latest iPhone SE is (which has the old school Touch ID button), its screen is nothing compared to the gorgeous display we get with the iPhone 11 range.

Still, it’s not like there aren’t a million phones with an under screen fingerprint scanner.

Let’s say that Apple has a genuine reason why an in-display scanner wouldn’t work on an iPhone. Well, how about putting a fingerprint scanner on the side of the device? This technique has been used by Honor with its fantastic 9X ProSamsung with its S10e, and a range of others.

Honestly, when you actually use a side-mounted fingerprint scanner you question why everyone’s not doing it. Hell, it’s more convenient than Face ID whether you’re wearing a mask or not.

I guess what I’m saying is, Apple, come on, bring back a new version of Touch ID and put a fingerprint scanner on the side of the iPhone 12. What’s so hard about that?

Anyway, as that’s unlikely to happen, we’ll just have to wait for iOS 13.5 before unlocking our phones with face masks becomes a little easier.

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Published April 30, 2020 — 10:32 UTC