iOS 14.5 will provide a great excuse to buy an Apple Watch: mask support for Face ID

Apple iPhone Face ID
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

At a time when everyone is wearing a mask, Face ID has become a problem for iPhone users – they're now constantly needing to enter their passcode to unlock their phones. There have been reports that the iPhone 13 range will get in-screen fingerprint sensors, but there's no need to wait (or upgrade).

Apple is trying to solve this problem right now by adding a feature to the upcoming iOS 14.5 update that should allow iPhone owners to use Face ID while wearing a mask. This next instalment of Apple's mobile operating system is now in developer beta and will be rolled out publicly in the coming weeks. 

While this is excellent news for iPhone users, there is one major caveat – you will need to be an Apple Watch users as well.

As first reported by Pocket-lint, iOS 14.5 will use your Apple Watch to authenticate your identity and unlock your phone – a feature that already exists on macOS.

If your Apple Watch is already unlocked, then lifting your iPhone to wake as you would for Face ID will produce a haptic feedback on your wrist to let you know your phone has been unlocked successfully.

This means that Face ID will work despite low or no facial recognition because the paired Watch has already been authenticated. This shortcut, though, will only work for unlocking an iPhone and will not work for any other action that relies on Face ID, like authenticating purchases for Apple Pay or App Store purchases.

iOS 14.5 will also bring a major privacy feature called App Tracking Transparency which will require apps to get user permission before tracking your activity and data across apps and websites. Updates to Siri and support for PS5 and Xbox Series X controllers are also incoming.

Sharmishta Sarkar
Managing Editor (APAC)

While she's happiest with a camera in her hand, Sharmishta's main priority is being TechRadar's APAC Managing Editor, looking after the day-to-day functioning of the Australian, New Zealand and Singapore editions of the site, steering everything from news and reviews to ecommerce content like deals and coupon codes. While she loves reviewing cameras and lenses when she can, she's also an avid reader and has become quite the expert on ereaders and E Ink writing tablets, having appeared on Singaporean radio to talk about these underrated devices. Other than her duties at TechRadar, she's also the Managing Editor of the Australian edition of Digital Camera World, and writes for Tom's Guide and T3.