Given that mask mandates in many parts of the United States are being lifted, Apple may have been a little late with this feature. As we’re still in the midst of the pandemic, however, cautious users can still get a lot out of it. (That is, if they’re using relatively newer iPhones – this add-on only works on the iPhone 12 series and newer.)
Even if you set up Face ID a long time ago, you will be asked to register your face in Face ID again once you install the update. Why? So your phone can see your eyes better, as well as the space around them. If you choose to use Face ID while masked, Apple says the feature will attempt to “recognize unique features around the eye area” to determine that you are, in fact, you.
Once you’ve completed the setup process, Face ID should work as it does when you’re unmasked.
Still, these quick unlocks can come at a cost. Apple admits Face ID is most accurate when it can look at your entire face, so don’t be surprised if your phone sometimes unlocks while you’re masked. This is especially true if you wear hats such as toques and beanies that cover additional parts of your face, and sunglasses in particular are prohibited. (Ordinary glasses are fine, however.)
While these mask tweaks make Face ID less secure in some ways, it’s (thankfully) still not so easy to fool — you can’t, for example, point your phone’s front camera at a video of you wearing a mask and unlock it.