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Apple’s latest iOS update lets you use Face ID while wearing a mask

Considering that mask mandates across many parts of the United States are being lifted, Apple was perhaps a little late with this feature. Since we’re still in the midst of the pandemic, though, covid-cautious users can still get plenty of mileage out of it. (That is, if they’re using fairly new iPhones — this addition only works on the iPhone 12 series and newer.)

Even if you’ve set up Face ID ages ago, you’ll be asked to enroll your face in Face ID again once you’ve installed the update. Why? So your phone can get a better look at your eyes — as well as the space around them. If you opt into using Face ID while masked, Apple says the feature will attempt to “recognize the unique features around the eye area” to determine that you are, in fact, you.

Once you’ve made it through the setup process, Face ID should work as it does when you’re unmasked.

Still, these speedy unlocks can come at a cost. Apple admits that Face ID is most accurate when it can look at your whole face, so don’t be surprised if your phone occasionally flubs an unlock while you’re masked. That’s especially true if you wear hats such as toques and beanies that cover additional parts of your face, and sunglasses in particular are a no-go. (Regular glasses are fine, though.)

While these mask tweaks make Face ID less secure in some ways, it’s (thankfully) still not that easy to trick — you can’t, for example, point your phone’s front camera at a video of yourself wearing a mask and unlock it.

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