Researchers suggest method to unlock iPhone with Face ID while wearing face mask

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended people wear face masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but this has caused a dilemma for iPhone owners reliant on Face ID to unlock their devices.

While a person is wearing a face mask for protection against the new coronavirus, the obstruction will cause the Face ID system to fail. iPhone owners are left with two options: Either pull aside their mask and risk infection, or disable Face ID and lose the security advantages that the technology provides.

In response to the problem, researchers from Tencent Security Xuanwu Lab suggested a way that iPhone owners can try as, apparently, it only requires a person’s eyes, nose, and mouth to be partially visible for Face ID to work.

How to make Face ID work through a face mask

The process is actually simple, involving another run-through of setting up Face ID. The method will not reset the system though, but rather use its “alternate appearance” option.

To start, access the iPhone’s Settings and enter the Face ID & Passcode menu, then select Set Up an Alternate Appearance. This will initiate two face scans, similar to the initial set-up of the facial recognition system, only this time, the person should cover his or her face with half of the face mask.

Setting up Face ID’s alternate appearance with half of the face mask on will result in some messages that there is an obstruction, but the two scans should still complete after a few tries. Ideally, once that is completed, the iPhone may be unlocked even while wearing the full face mask.

Unfortunately, this does not appear to be a surefire method, so it may take a few tries of resetting Face ID and scanning both without and with a face mask.

Face ID workaround

The method is not only for the sake of convenience, as unlocking iPhones’ communication capabilities are even more important during these times. For example, if on a supply run, messages for additional requests from family members may come in, which people may not be able to read until back at home if they are worried, and rightfully so, of touching their faces to remove their masks to unlock their iPhones.

At the very least, the suggested workaround will likely work better in unlocking iPhones than face masks with people’s faces printed on them.

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