Apple’s iOS 14.5 beta is out, and with it comes the ability to let your Apple Watch unlock your Face ID protected phone if you happen to be wearing a mask. Now if you really want this feature, you’ll need to download the latest iOS and watchOS betas – something that comes with at least a small amount of risk since it’s unfinished software. There are bugs and features can change between updates. There have been reports of watches being bricked by betas in the past (although I didn’t find any before this release).
That said, I’ve been using the betas since they came out, and haven̵
First, go to beta.apple.com on your iPhone. If you’ve never participated in a public beta before, you will need to tap the sign up button and once you’ve done that you can tap the sign up button.
Once you’re signed in, tap the down arrow in the header and go to Enroll your devices. I highly recommend following Apple’s advice to create an archived backup of your device as iCloud backups are not necessarily accessible if you need to switch back from a beta. Apple explains how to create one on the Sign Up page. Go ahead, I’ll be there when you get back.
Once you’ve backed up your device, you can scroll down and tap the Download Profile button, then your phone will tell you to view the profile before installing it.
But before we do that, let’s grab the profile for the watch by scrolling up and choosing WatchOS from the list. There you can tap the Download Profile button and then click Allow.
Tap install to add the beta profile to your watch.
This will automatically open the Watch app, where you can press Install. This will reboot your watch so while that happens let’s install the phone’s profile by going to Settings and then Profile Downloaded.
There you can tap the Install button and your phone will reboot.
After downloading the profiles and restarting your devices, you need to update your phone and then your watch. Unfortunately, you have to wait for the phone to update before you can even start waiting, so you can’t multitask.
Once you are officially using iOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4, we can finally enable the watch unlock feature.
Go to Settings> Face ID & Passcode and scroll down to the new option Unlock with Apple Watch. Turning it on will turn on the feature, you don’t need to do anything on the watch.
Now that you’ve installed it, here’s what to expect. First, and the most important thing to note is that your phone is not searching for your face with a mask, look for it a face with a mask. With this feature on, if my wife was wearing a mask, she was able to unlock my phone without any issues when I was within three feet.
Apple’s limitation on this is that when your Apple Watch is used to unlock your phone, you will be notified that your phone is unlocked, along with a button to lock it. Pressing that lock button instantly locks your phone and requires a passcode on the next unlock.
With that caveat out of the way, I’ve had a lot of success with the position so far. I have tried with a variety of masks, and it worked with all masks for me. It’s worth noting that, again, it’s still looking for a face with a mask. This feature will not help you in the situation where your phone is on the table and you want to unlock it without the Face ID camera seeing you.
Still, it’s a huge advantage for me that I don’t have to enter my passcode every time I want to check my grocery list while shopping, which I consider relatively minor security issues. The feature may not be for those with super secret information on their phones, but for everyone else, it will be a nice quality of life improvement whether you decide to go for it or wait for the official release.