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Apple makes iPhones easier to unlock without Face ID as many wear masks

The beta feature comes during the spread of the coronavirus.

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Corinne Reichert Senior Editor
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
Expertise News, mobile, broadband, 5G, home tech, streaming services, entertainment, AI, policy, business, politics Credentials
  • I've been covering technology and mobile for 12 years, first as a telecommunications reporter and assistant editor at ZDNet in Australia, then as CNET's West Coast head of breaking news, and now in the Thought Leadership team.
Corinne Reichert
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Face masks and Face ID don't necessarily play well together.

Angela Lang/CNET

Apple  is including a new feature in iOS 13.5 developer beta 3 so users can unlock their iPhones faster while wearing a medical mask or facial covering because of COVID-19. Though not mentioned in the iOS release notes published Wednesday, the Face ID changes are meant to make it simpler and faster to get to the passcode field by swiping up from the bottom of the lock screen on your iPhone.

This is designed to work not only for unlocking the phone but also for authenticating purchases, including in the App Store, Apple Books, Apple Pay and iTunes, and while using apps that need Face ID authentication.

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There's no information yet on when this feature will be released to the public, however.

Also as part of the beta, Apple is delivering its first tools for coronavirus tracking technology alongside Google. The new Exposure Notification API will support public health authority COVID-19 apps. The software is set to be fully released in mid-May.

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