Apple iPhone’s Face ID doesn’t work with N95 face masks

Apple iPhone’s Face ID facial recognition isn’t made for use with masks, including N95 face masks, which the CDC now recommends we all wear in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. “Face ID is designed to work with your eyes, nose and mouth visible,” an Apple spokeswoman said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal.

Face ID masks. Image: Apple Senior Vice President Worldwide Marketing, Philip W. Schiller, explains Face ID during Apple's September 12, 2017 event
Apple Senior Vice President
Worldwide Marketing, Philip W. Schiller, explains Face ID during Apple’s September 12, 2017 event

Joanna Stern for The Wall Street Journal:

Naturally, I saw this as a challenge. I began trying to register my face with the system wearing just about everything—an N95 mask, a bandanna, a homemade mask, a diaper. Nope. Nada. None of it worked. And no, Samsung fans, it didn’t work on the Galaxy S20 either.

Some have figured out elaborate workarounds for using Face ID with masks (as you can see in my video above). Others, especially doctors who have been dealing with this frustration for years, have some useful tips to counter this new inconvenience…

People who have been wearing masks in areas of Asia over the past few months told me that Face ID seems to have learned their “mask face.” Apple’s Face ID system does learn changes to your face over time—say, growing of a beard—so there’s a chance the longer you wear a mask this might work. I haven’t seen a change yet.

MacDailyNews Take: Here’s how to unlock your iPhone while wearing a face mask:
1. Enter your passcode.
2. There is no step 2.


    1. WARNING!!!

      The CDC is NOT recommending that we wear N95 masks!

      Those need to be saved for use by first responders, who are facing a life-threatening shortage. Ordinary folks should be practicing social distancing to avoid getting infected. For most of us, a mask does not add much additional safety from that.

      CDC IS commending that other folks use lesser masks to avoid passing the virus to others. By definition, you can’t know if you are an asymptomatic carrier without testing, and there are not enough tests even to check all the sick people.

      Any mask will block facial recognition. That is why you have a passcode.

      1. WARNING!!! There is no life-threatening shortage, tens of millions of masks are available throughout the country. If first responders are being denied it’s because hospitals are hoarding them. California alone has distributed from a stockpile of over 20 million that have expired rubber bands that can be easily replaced and which are sitting in back storerooms of hospitals right now. Massive supplies are being produced and distributed as we speak. And these bastards expect working families to donate (!) the few masks they may have to multi-billion dollar healthcare conglomerates? Pound sand!

        The CDC has been lying about masks from the start. Masks help prevent the virus from entering your body by creating a physical barrier on your mouth and nose. The virus is aersolized simply by breathing, not just coughing or sneezing. If you value your health and that of your loved ones, wear an N95 mask when you go out, and cover your eyes with safety eyewear, or at least glasses. Otherwise use a surgical mask (check Amazon and eBay), a t-shirt is absolutely a last-resort option.

        Don’t trust the information coming out of the CDC or the big mouths of so-called “experts”. Uncensored news reports about what steps nurses take to protect themselves when they get home (changing shoes, disinfecting phones and other personal items, etc.) is better information than you’ll get from government drones like Tx Fauci.

        1. The Department of Health and Human Services told the Associated Press today (May 8) that the federal stockpile was in the process of deploying all remaining personal protective equipment in its inventory. The Strategic National Stockpile is nearly out of the N95 respirators, surgical masks, face, shields, gowns and other medical supplies desperately needed to protect front-line medical workers treating coronavirus patients.

          Since you know otherwise, Nick, you need to call HHS to correct their error. Better yet, call the President to offer your superior medical advice as a replacement for the CDC, NIH, USPHS, and all those other quacks.

          Viruses were originally called “filterable viruses” because they pass through filters that can stop any bacterium or other pathogen that can be seen in a visible-light microscope. If the novel coronavirus was really being aerosolized, it would not be hindered by a filter that only stops 95% of particulate matter. What an N95 mask does stop pretty well is what generally transmits the disease, tiny virus-bearing droplets that are emitted from the lungs and mucous membranes. Those drops fall out of the air pretty quickly and are unlikely to carry more than a yard or two. Hence the distancing guidelines.

          So, an N95 (or other) mask only protects the wearer if he or she is that close to an infectious person. Nobody other than a first responder, medical professional, or personal career should be. Assuming that HHS is right about the mask supply, anybody else wearing an N95 mask is wasting a scarce medical resource and putting lives in danger without any significant benefit to the wearer or anyone else.

          Masks that do not meet the N95 standard (such as surgical or painter’s masks, scarfs, and bandannas) cannot stop the virus or the tiniest particles in the air. However, they can stop slightly larger particles from the wearer’s nose and mouth that would otherwise fall onto a surface where the virus might survive until someone else touches it. If the wearer is infected, even if he is asymptomatic and unaware that he is a carrier, the mask will help protect other people. That is reason enough, even without a direct benefit to the wearer, for anyone who is not a sociopath to wear one.

      1. A $300 accessory for the phone that no longer fits in your pocket. That is the innovation Apple gives you. New exciting ways to empty your wallet. One more useless gadget to manage. No thanks.

    1. Touch ID used to work for me about 50% of the time. It was seriously frustrating and i generally had to use my passcode to unlock my phone.

      Face ID works. Always. For everything.

  1. This Coronavirus has people running out of ideas to find interesting topics.

    OK, Face ID doesn’t work with masks, but does Touch ID work with rubber gloves? Probably not. I really don’t understand why Apple is always being pointed out for something that doesn’t work when it’s likely 99% of all smartphones won’t identify the subject if they’re wearing a mask or gloves of any sort. I would say this is a given point and hardly worth pointing out. I suppose the only thing that would work now is a type of bio-metric sensor that reads eye pupils. But maybe that won’t even work when a doctor or nurse is wearing a full-face shield. All a person would have to do is use their PIN code and that should solve the problem.

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