User unlocking iPhone with Passcode while wearing mask without Face ID
Khamosh Pathak / How-To Geek

In the time of coronavirus and contact tracing, even unlocking your iPhone with Face ID can be a hassle. Starting with iOS 13.5, Apple is going to make the process of opening your iPhone while wearing a mask easier, but not in the way you might expect.

What Is Mask Detection on iPhone?

The iOS 13.5 update makes some changes to the iPhone’s unlocking process on newer phones that don’t include a fingerprint sensor. Instead of spending 3 to 5 seconds scanning your face to biometrically unlock your handset, the moment a mask is detected, your iPhone will drop you into the passcode screen.

Apple made this change to its mobile operating system because Face ID uses data points gained from mapping your entire face. Unfortunately, that technology can’t just be changed to adapt to our new mask-toting lives.

Enter Passcode screen on iPhone with Face ID

It’s also important to note that this new behavior is only for when your iPhone detects you’re wearing a mask. If your face is visible when you swipe up, your iPhone will still spend a couple of seconds trying to find your face.

The Face ID Mask Detection feature is rolling out globally and will be enabled automatically once you update to iOS 13.5. Unfortunately, if you’re not a fan, there is no way to disable this feature either.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to update your iPhone.

RELATED: How to Update Your iPhone to the Latest iOS Version

Will Masks Work with Older iOS Versions?

Before iOS 13.5, when you swiped up wearing a mask, you’d still see the “Face ID” scanning text for 3 to 5 seconds before it gave up and asked you to enter the passcode.

You can try to set up an alternative appearance with the mask folded in half to get around it, but the results are going to be murky at best.

RELATED: How to Use Face ID on Your iPhone While Wearing a Mask

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Khamosh Pathak is a freelance technology writer who specializes in tutorials. His work has also been published on Lifehacker, iPhoneHacks, Zapier's blog, MakeUseOf, and Guiding Tech. Khamosh has nearly a decade of experience writing how-tos, features and technology guides on the internet.
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