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iOS update introduces facial recognition with masks to iPhones, but only via Apple Watch

Feature already available in developer beta


Apple has released a new iOS developer beta featuring Face ID biometric unlocking by users wearing masks on iPhones, Engadget reports.

The iOS 14.5 beta introduces several minor updates, including support for Xbox Series S/X and PlayStation 5 controllers, plus the update to Face ID. However, in order to take advantage of the facial recognition option, users will have to be wearing an unlocked Apple Watch on their wrist.

Apple has not yet released a changelog explaining how the biometric feature works from a technical standpoint.

Despite that, early tests conducted by Engadget seem to suggest that Face ID would allow an unlock based on only a partial positive facial match, supported by the fact that a linked, nearby Watch has already been authenticated.

The introduction of the new feature comes in the hope of introducing yet another workaround to issues Apple has been experiencing with Face ID biometrics authenticating users wearing masks.

Last May Apple introduced a new Face ID function allowing users to skip the facial recognition process when a mask is detected and instead ask them to enter the passcode.

More recently, Apple has been granted a patent for face biometrics occlusion assessment and has reportedly confirmed the development of a new optical in-display sensor for fingerprint biometrics.

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