Apple today released the third beta version of watchOS 7.4 to developers. This beta software update brings an alternative unlocking method to iPhone owners who frequently use their phone while wearing a mask.
The new “Unlock with Apple Watch” feature uses the watch to unlock the iPhone automatically when a mask gets in the way of Face ID.
Apple describes how the new feature works, and it is relatively straightforward for existing Apple Watch owners.
iPhone can use your Apple Watch to unlock when Face ID detects a face with a mask. Your Apple Watch must be nearby, on your wrist, unlocked, and protected by a passcode.Apple
How Does It Work?
For Apple Watch owners, the process is simple:
- You first try to unlock your iPhone with Face ID while wearing your Apple Watch.
- The iPhone will detect the mask if you are wearing one and then turn to the watch to unlock your phone.
- As long as you are wearing the Watch and it is not currently locked, then you are golden. Your iPhone will unlock without you having to enter your passcode.
Apple added this feature to watchOS in response to widespread mask usage during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is designed for masks, but likely will work with other face coverings. Folks who are wearing a full-face helmet for work or recreation or those who wear a face-covering for cultural reasons may also benefit from this new feature.
Currently, this watchOS update is only available for developers in Apple’s beta program. Registered participants must first download a configuration file from Apple’s developer portal. Once the profile is downloaded, developers can download watchOS 7.4 beta 3 using the Apple Watch app on the iPhone. It also requires iOS 14.5 on the iPhone.