While this feature was previously available in the dev and public betas, it’s now official. But that doesn’t mean everyone will be able to do it.
Unfortunately, this functionality is restricted to people who have an Apple Watch paired to their iPhone. This is because the system actually uses the watch to do the unlocking.
Unlocking your iPhone with a face mask requires some updates first
Now before you doing anything you’ll need to update your system. You can do this by going to Settings > General > Software Update.
If you can’t get the update yet, don’t fret. At the time of writing it was still rolling out.
You will then also need to make sure your Apple Watch is running the latest WatchOS 7.4 beta update as well. If you don’t, the option to toggle Unlock with Apple Watch will be greyed out in your iPhone settings.
At the moment you can get it from Apple’s beta enrolment site. Just make sure you back up your Apple Watch first and use Safari for the profile download.
Once the profile is installed and your Apple Watch restarts, go to your WatchOS app > General > Software update. Install WatchOS 7.4.
Now you can switch it on
Next you need to follow these steps to get Unlock with Apple Watch to work.
- Have a passcode enabled on your iPhone (Settings > Face ID & Passcode > Turn Passcode on)
- While in Face ID & Passcode also select ‘Unlock with Apple Watch’
- If you don’t already have one, you may be asked to set up a passcode for your Apple Watch
- Have wrist detection turned on
Once this is done you should be able to unlock your iPhone with a mask on. However, your Apple Watch will need to be unlocked whenever you want to do this.
Once it is and you raise your iPhone, it should detect you have a mask on and then unlock.
My tests have been super speedy, which is good news!
Which iPhones will this work with?
Here’s a full list of compatible devices:
- iPhone 12
- iPhone SE (2020)
- iPhone 11
- iPhone XS
- iPhone XS Max
- iPhone XR
- iPhone X
- iPhone 8
- iPhone 8 Plus
- iPhone 7
- iPhone 7 Plus
- iPhone 6s
- iPhone 6s Plus
- iPhone SE (2016)
Disclosure: the author owns shares in Apple.