Apple is testing a new feature that would allow iPhone users to unlock their smartphones without having to remove their face masks in public.
The new feature, which Apple plans to release as an update, will bring the face recognition security tool, Face ID, and other security tools to enable users unlock their devices, provided they are also wearing an Apple Watch.
With current security, after Face ID recognizes that someone is wearing a mask, the system triggers the appearance of the passcode entry screen. This update was started by Apple, in May.
The latest update, however, which is part of a developer beta test, and will likely be rolled out soon, will allow iPhone devices to communicate with a synced Apple Watch, when the phone is raised to use Face ID.
When authentication is completed – with the devices being in close proximity – the iPhone will automatically unlock, and the Apple Watch will vibrate.
Apple added that users will need to opt in for this feature.
For security purposes, Apple said that the update will only work to unlock the phone.
Apple added that users will still need to type in their passcode to make transactions through Apple Pay, the App Store or iTunes, if wearing a mask.
The latest update is another move by Apple to encourage people to develop the habit of wearing face masks during the pandemic.
It is also a potential incentive for Apple customers to purchase a smartwatch, or at least, use the one they have more frequently.
While Apple’s latest mobile operating system was launched in September, the company has continued to releases updates to fix bugs or introduce new features.