I’ll start with the good news. If you’re using Face ID on your iPhone or iPad Pro, and it’s driving your crazy that you can’t unlock your device while you’re wearing a face mask, worry not. With the upcoming release of iOS 13.5, Apple is making this process slightly easier.
If you don’t have an iPhone SE, or any other older iPhone that still uses Touch ID—such as the iPhone 8—you’ve probably noticed that wearing a face mask really messes up Face ID. Well, going forward, that’s still going to be the case. Apple isn’t installing out some special workaround that recognizes your face and authenticates you into your device if you’re wearing a mask, alas.
However, iOS 13.5 simplifies the process by skipping right to the passcode option if your phone detects you’re wearing a mask. You’ll still have to do a bit of tapping on your device to get in, but it’s a lot faster than waiting for Face ID to first run its scan.
There’s nothing you need to do to enable this feature; it just works by default. Obviously, you’ll need iOS 13.5 to try this out, but installing that beta is easy enough. Pull up Safari on your iPhone or iPad and hit up betaprofiles.com. Download and install the profile on your device, restart it, and run a software update to grab the latest beta version of iOS. You might experience bugs; you have been warned.
How to disable Coronavirus notifications in iOS 13.5
Apple is also throwing in another Coronavirus-themed feature into iOS. And while I wouldn’t recommend disabling it, you do have the option.
As you’ve surely read, Apple and Google are teaming up to create a contact-tracing API. In short, your device will use Bluetooth to help inform others that you’ve been in contact with them if you report that you have COVID-19. And the same is true in reverse; you’ll receive notifications if someone else self-reports COVID-19.
While there’s no way to actually report the results of a COVID-19 test just yet—early reports suggest there will be a separate app for this, and your results will have to be verified by a health provider—Apple is at least planting the notification element into iOS 13.5. It’s enabled by default for now, but I believe it should be opt-in once the feature launches to the public.
If you’d like to check the setting (or opt-out, for whatever reason), you’ll find it buried in Settings > Privacy > Health > COVID-19 Exposure Notifications:
Again, I’m not sure why you’d want to turn this off, but there you go. I expect this process to change once the contact-tracing bit is fully baked into iOS 13.5. In case it doesn’t, or in case you ever need to check your notification status, here’s where you’ll find it (for now).