iOS 14.5 bypasses Face ID, unlocks iPhones with Apple Watch [Updated]

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iOS 14.5 beta 1 lets
iOS 14.5 beta 1 lets Apple Watch wearers unlock their iPhone without Face ID.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple has a solution for the hassle of unlocking an iPhone while wearing a face mask. iOS 14.5 beta 1, which was seeded to beta testers in the general public on Thursday, enables users to unlock their iPhone when their Apple Watch is nearby.

Plus, there are other new features. And this wasn’t the only fresh beta introduced. The first pre-release versions of iPadOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4 are also available for the public and developers to begin testing.

iOS 14.5 beta 1 makes mask wearing easier

The new iPhone software gives users the ability to unlock their iPhone with an Apple Watch if they’re wreaking a mask. The wearable has to be running watchOS 7.4 beta 1.

The Face ID and Passcode screen of the iOS Settings app activates this option. The Watch “must be nearby, on your wrist, unlocked, and protected by a passcode,” according to Apple.

For a deeper dive, check Cult of Mac’s guide to how to unlock your iPhone with Apple Watch in iOS 14.5.

Other new features in iOS 14.5

Apple is bringing a number of other improvements in iOS 14.5 This could be the debut of the App Tracking Transparency feature that will require applications to specifically ask users to permit the app to track them online. This is scheduled to launch in early spring, and given that the beta process for 14.5 is just starting, it’s likely to go live in March.

With this update, just saying “Hey Siri, call emergency” is enough to get an iPhone to automatically contact 911.

Most Apple Arcade games can be played with external controllers, and iOS 14.5 and the iPad equivalent add support for Sony PlayStation 5 DualSense controller, as well as the Xbox Series X and Series S controller. This is in addition to some earlier Playstation and Xbox controllers.

Start testing now

As of Thursday, iOS 14.5 beta 1, iPadOS 14.5 beta 1 and watchOS 7.4 beta 1 are available for all to test. But access for non-developers requires joining the Beta Software Program. It’s easy and free, though. Visit the official website, click the Sign up button, and log in with your Apple ID.

And the full non-beta versions should be out in a month or so.

Update: This article was first published when these betas were seeded only to developers. It was updated when the public betas were introduced.