Unlocking an iPhone with a mask: how it works and which iPhones are supported


Yesterday, January 27, Apple released first beta version of iOS 15.4. In this update, the Face ID biometric system has learned to recognize the user, even if his face is hidden behind a mask. Previously, unlocking required wearing an Apple Watch, which confirmed to the paired smartphone that the person who unlocked it was the true owner. But now the developers have changed the scanning technique and made it so that the iPhone no longer needs external equipment to confirm the user’s identity. However, it was not without limitations.

To begin with, I propose to understand how the new technique works. face recognition. After all, at a time when this required the Apple Watch, the Face ID system itself almost did not take part in the identification process. And, if accepted, then the most minimal.

Because in the first place, the watch was repelled by whether the owner took it off his wrist. If he didn’t shoot, then it’s guaranteed he is. But if you filmed, Apple Watch will send a command to the iPhone to request an identification password. You never know. But now it’s different.

How to unlock an iPhone with a mask

Apple has redesigned the very method of recognizing a face hidden behind a mask. Now Face ID doesn’t scan the whole face entirely, but only the visible areas around the user’s eyes. Cupertino claims that they are unique for each person, so the reliability of this unlocking method does not suffer.

However, most likely, in fact, unlocking with a mask is still less safe than without. Still, Face ID receives less incoming data for identification, which means that it will have more chances to make a mistake or not work at all. Therefore, Apple suggests activating the feature masked iPhone unlock forced in settings.

In addition to the mask, the iPhone can now also recognize glasses. No, in principle iPhone has been unlocked before no problem if you were wearing glasses. But now, in the iOS settings, there is an opportunity to store the glasses that you wear regularly in the Face ID memory for more effective response. This feature is activated in the same settings section as the mask:

  • Update your iPhone to iOS 15.4 beta 1;
  • Go to “Settings” on your iPhone;
  • Open the tab “Face ID and passcode”;
  • Turn on face mask recognition.

Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to take advantage of the innovations. As it turned out, mask recognition support only two generations of Apple smartphones. This is a 2020 and 2021 iPhone. All other models and tablets of the company do not have such a chip. This is rather strange, given that Cupertino has never announced Face ID changes and improvementsexcept for the reduction in the size of sensors in the current generation of iPhone.

Unlock iPhone in a mask: which ones support

If you’re not good at release years, here’s the full list. iPhones that support mask unlock:

  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13
  • iPhone 13 mini
  • iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max

Perhaps Apple just didn’t have time to add mask recognition to the firmware of earlier iPhone models, but was going to do it in future builds of iOS. However, common sense tells me that this will not happen. It’s business as usual for Apple to add new features only new iPhone and deprive them of their old devices.

I even already know how Cupertino will explain this. It is highly likely that marketers who have to make excuses for this incident will press on the insufficiently productive hardware stuffing of older iPhone models. Allegedly iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 have more powerful hardwareso they are able to remove the blockage in the mask, and the rest are not.

Whether this is true, I do not presume to judge. But given that Apple already offers mask unlock with Apple WatchEverything looks marketing-wise. Owners of the new iPhones – so be it – will be allowed to use Face ID in a mask just like that. And for those who have older models and from whom it has not been possible to milk a cent for a long time, you are welcome for the Apple Watch. For you, this is the only way out.

Obviously, this is very ugly on Apple’s part. Even if, in fact, the hardware of older iPhone models is not able to provide face recognition in a mask, this restriction looks like a premeditated marketing ploy. Whether this is true, of course, no one will tell us. But Apple has once again shown itself to be an innovator, but at the same time greedy and petty.

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