Apple might be giving the iPhone’s Face ID a big upgrade in the future. iOS 15.4 developer beta 1 now shows an option to leave a mask on.
The iPhone might finally be getting the ability to recognize its owner even if they are wearing a mask, a feature that Apple owners have been sorely lacking in the midst of the global pandemic. This unfortunate turn of events has made it easier for iPhone SE owners to unlock their phones than those that spent much more to buy a flagship iPhone 13 Pro Max. Apple could have simply eased the authentication accuracy, but as Apple Pay works with various banks and credit cards, it is unlikely that Apple’s financial partners would want to take that risk.
Face ID is a remarkable technology that identifies a person via the front-facing camera of an iPhone. The system is quite robust and can’t be fooled with a photograph, since the TrueDepth camera that’s required uses infrared light projection to identify the depth of facial features as well as the shade and color. This advanced technique even accounts for subtle changes such as growing a beard, wearing makeup, and wearing glasses.
Despite the versatility of Face ID, being half-covered with a protective mask proved too challenging to allow recognition and authentication, but it looks like that will change in the future. A Tweet from Brandon Butch reveals a screenshot of a new option to use Face ID with a mask and a cute icon at the top makes it clear that this is for protective masks. Apple explains that it can recognize features around the eye area to authenticate and that a mask need not be worn when setting up Face ID in order to take advantage of this new capability. A second Tweet describes an option to add glasses while wearing a mask as well.
How To Get The New iPhone Face ID
Currently, the new form of Face ID that works when wearing a mask is only available to those running the iOS 15.4 developer beta 1. That means it might take several months to become available to the general public and there is a chance that it might not make the cut if problems arise during testing. Developer betas are one step removed from public betas which are released before the official version of iOS 15.4 reaches everyone. iOS 15.3 just became available on January 26, 2022, so improved Face ID will not be ready quickly, particularly since it has to do with the security of the iPhone and all of the user’s data.
If the need is great enough a person can sign up to become an Apple developer, pay the fee and download iOS 15.4 immediately. There is a risk of some features not working correctly and this really is best left to technical wizards that know how to get around small glitches and major issues. The purpose of beta testing is to smooth out problems in advance of the general release. In the meantime, iPhone owners are already getting faster access to the pin screen when a mask is detected and Apple Watch users can unlock an iPhone when wearing a mask.
Source: Brandon Butch/Twitter
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