Apple vows to fix iPhone 13 bug that breaks Unlock with Apple Watch [Updated]

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iPhone 13 and new iPads hit the Apple Store
Mask-wearers must enter their passcode to unlock iPhone 13.
Photo: Apple

Apple has promised to fix an iPhone 13 bug that prevents owners from using Unlock with Apple Watch. In the meantime, users can disable the feature to prevent an “Unable to Communicate with Apple Watch” error from appearing.

Unlock with Apple Watch was first introduced last April with iOS 14.5, giving iPhone users with Face ID the ability to easily unlock their devices while wearing a mask, which prevents facial recognition from working.

Update Sept. 28: iOS 15.1 beta 2 includes a fix for this problem. However, it’s not known when iOS 15.1 will be released to the public.

Unlock with Apple Watch coming to iPhone 13

The feature should have been available on iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro out of the box. But a bug that prevents it from working somehow made its way into the final firmware for Apple’s newest handsets, which landed last Friday.

“Unable to Communicate with Apple Watch” reads the error some users see when attempting to unlock their iPhone 13 while wearing a mask. Others simply cannot enable Unlock with Apple Watch at all.

“Apple has identified an issue where Unlock with Apple Watch may not work with iPhone 13 devices,” the company confirmed in a new support document. “This issue will be fixed in an upcoming software update.”

In the meantime, the only way to avoid seeing an error every time you attempt to unlock your iPhone 13 is to simple disable Unlock with Apple Watch.

How to disable Unlock with Apple Watch

You can do that by following these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app on iPhone.
  2. Tap Face ID & Passcode.
  3. Enter your passcode to proceed.
  4. Tap the toggle under Unlock with Apple Watch to disable.

You can then re-enable the feature after Apple has rolled out its software update to fix it.