Apple’s latest iOS beta makes it easier to unlock an iPhone while wearing a face mask

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Apple’s latest beta version of iOS 13 comes with a much-needed improvement to lock screen authentication for those who now spend a majority of their time at work or outside wearing a face mask.

Now, instead of constantly attempting to identify your face using Face ID, a process that will not work while wearing a cloth or respiratory face mask to protect against COVID-19, iOS will now pull up the manual passcode option after one swipe up from the bottom of the screen. The change — which should eventually arrive in the standard, non-beta iOS release — will be a welcome one for any iPhone user who no longer has a model with a physical home button.

If you’re a user of the iPhone X, XS, or 11, you’re probably well-accustomed to the frustrations of trying to use any one of those devices or their Plus or Pro variants while covering your face, as the software will insist on trying to authenticate biometrically instead of just kicking you to the passcode screen. It can often take upwards of 10 to 15 seconds and numerous swipes to force iOS to let you input your code. Not only that, but the user interface design could put iPhone users at risk if they feel like they have to quickly remove their masks just to unlock their devices.

So it’s nice to see Apple make a fundamental change to how iOS authentication works, without undermining security, to accommodate the current predicament the world finds itself in. In addition to the Face ID changes, Apple is also modifying FaceTime video calls to allow users to disable the feature where the active speaker grows larger in the asymmetric grid, in the event a static grid of faces is preferable for video calls with many people talking after one another. This will be an opt-in feature in the FaceTime settings, and once enabled, you’ll have to tap on a person’s feed to make it prominent in the grid.

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