iOS 15.4 beta supports Face ID while wearing a mask

You soon may might not need an Apple Watch or a passcode while masked up.

Richard Lai/Engadget

Just a few days after rolling out iOS 15.3, Apple has released the latest iOS developer beta. Among the new features is one that'll come in very handy for unlocking your iPhone while you're out and about in the current climate. The company is testing a way for folks to use Face ID while they're wearing a mask — without needing an Apple Watch.

"Face ID is most accurate when it’s set up for full-face recognition only," Apple explains when users set up the feature. "To use Face ID while wearing a mask, iPhone can recognize the unique features around the eye to authenticate.”

The update comes almost a year after Apple started allowing users to unlock their iPhone via Face ID while masking up. Until now, people have used an unlocked Apple Watch as a key.

Apple's looking to get rid of that requirement in the latest beta, which will surely come as music to the ears of people who are fed up with punching in their iPhone passcode at the grocery store or the gym. Avoiding using your passcode in public is a boon for privacy too.

You'll need to switch on the option manually. Under the Face ID & Passcode section of the settings, select the "Use Face ID with a mask option" to get started. The feature will still work for those who are wearing glasses, but you'll need to remove your sunglasses.

Other features in the beta include the option to add notes to iCloud Keychain passwords and the ability to copy text from objects using the camera while in the Notes and Reminders apps. Also new is support for adaptive triggers on the PS5 DualSense controller, EU Digital COVID Certificate-compatible vaccination records in Wallet, an Apple Card widget and, perhaps most importantly for many, dozens more emoji.

As for the iPadOS 15.4, there's brightness control for the keyboard and (as part of the macOS Monterey 12.3 beta) something many Mac and iPad users have been waiting for: Universal Control. That feature allows people to control multiple Macs and iPads with a single mouse and keyboard. In December, Apple delayed the feature until the spring. It's not yet clear when Apple plans to release the final versions of the latest software more broadly.

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