Apple rolled out the beta, or test, version of its latest iOS 14.5 operating system that will allow users to unlock their iPhones using face recognition while wearing a mask.
The new feature allows users to link their iPhones with their Apple Watch to use as an additional authentication method.
Both the iPhone and the unlocked Apple Watch should be in close proximity. Users need to lift the iPhone, which will lead to a haptic sensation on the watch that will indicate that the iPhone is unlocked.
Although this feature unlocks the iPhone, users still need to manually add passcodes to process App Store or iTunes purchases if their faces are still covered.
To ensure security is not compromised, users will be asked to type their passcode every few hours even when the ‘unlock with Apple Watch’ feature is enabled.
Apple already offers a similar feature on the Mac, where users can unlock their computer using an Apple Watch. They need to be signed in to iCloud using the same Apple ID on both Mac and Apple Watch.
Google-owned Android is already offering a similar ‘smart lock’ feature that reduces the number of times users need to type a passcode or draw a pattern to unlock their smartphone or tablet.
The company’s iOS 14.5 software is also expected to introduce a new feature allowing multiple people to use the same Apple Card account.
The main account holder can set spending limits and also invite family members or friends to use the Apple Card account, reported MacRumors. Family spending will be available for viewing in the wallet app.
App developers will also need to ask for explicit user permission before tracking users’ activity when iOS 14.5 is released. This will restrict how technology giants such as Facebook and Google gather data about users to target ads.
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg criticised Apple for rolling out this new feature, saying it would make it harder the social media giant's advertising customers to target their messages and would hurt small businesses that are reliant on this service. The company added the iOS changes could curb its revenue growth.
Last week, Apple's chief executive Tim Cook lambasted other technology giants for “data exploitation” and called for reforms to how user data is sold to advertisers.