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Apple has a simple solution for unlocking an iPhone without using FaceID

For owners of Apple’s more recent iPhone models, FaceID does what it says on the tin, allowing you to use your face to unlock your handset with a minimum of fuss. And then along came the coronavirus.

Now, with so many people wearing masks outside or in the workplace, unlocking the phone with your face means removing your mask. This is not only annoying, but it also increases the risk of touching your face — something we’ve been warned against doing as it’s known to be an entry point for the virus. Alternatively, you can wait for your device to give up trying to make a positive identification, at which point it will ask for your passcode instead.

Well, finally Apple is moving toward making it a whole lot easier to unlock your phone if you’re wearing a mask.

Spotted in the latest beta version of iOS 13, owners of iPhone X, XS, and 11 models, which use the face-recognition technology, can immediately swipe up from the bottom of the display to bring up the passcode option. No mask fiddling, and no hanging around while quietly swearing under your face covering of choice. Just swipe up and you’re one secret code away from accessing your handset.

It’s a quick and easy solution, and one so simple that many will be wondering why Apple didn’t include it from the start. After all, in some countries, face masks have always been a common sight during, for example, hay fever season.

The new feature is being tested in iOS 13.5 — released to developers on Wednesday, April 29 — and should soon be rolled out to everyone via an update, ending what has become a frustrating process for countless iPhone owners.

The beta release also includes the APIs (application programming interfaces) needed to include tracking technology in upcoming iPhone apps geared toward contact tracing as part of efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Contact tracing can help to contain the spread of the virus as it can be transmitted through close proximity with infected individuals.

Data collected through contact tracing apps for both iOS and Android will be shared with local public health authorities, making it easier for them to identify who an infected individual has come into contact with. Identified individuals will then be contacted and asked to self-isolate at home while they wait to see if they develop any coronavirus symptoms.

The opt-in system is being prepared in partnership with Google and will use Bluetooth technology “with user privacy and security central to the design,” Apple said.

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