Apple is dropping the requirement for most of its corporate employees to wear masks, but there are still limitations. And the company has begun allowing some of its retail employees to take off their face mask at Apple Stores.
The policy change takes place as the surge of COVID-19 cases caused by the omicron variant is essentially over.
Face ID in iOS 15.4 will let users unlock their iPhones while wearing a mask. No Apple Watch necessary. The system will scan just the area around eyes. It comes with a warning that the change makes Face ID less secure, though.
Apple seeded the first iOS 15.4 beta to developers Thursday.
Starting Friday, many people will be able to visit a U.S. Apple Store without wearing a mask. It’s not a universal change — an Apple company memo that leaked out indicates that removing the mask requirement depends on “vaccinations, testing, and case counts” in the area of each retail store.
Reportedly, about a third of stores will see the change. But that’s only the start.
If you’ve been dreaming of seeing the bottom half of people’s faces in Apple Stores (odd dream, admittedly!), you’ll get your wish starting this week as many Apple Stores in the U.S. begin loosening their mask requirements.
This comes as major retailers are increasingly getting back to normal as the coronavirus pandemic subsides. Apple has been one of the more cautious parties when it comes to in-store mask policies. The likes of Walmart, Trader Joe’s and Costco have already ditched mandatory mask rules. But Apple was said to be holding back.
iOS 14.5 is the best update of the pandemic era because it works with your Apple Watch to remove the hassle of unlocking your iPhone while wearing a face mask. You don’t have to type in your passcode every single damn time. The phone just unlocks. Like it’s supposed to.
But the trick does require an Apple Watch. If you’ve been on the bubble about getting one, this feature should go a long way toward convincing you. It serves as yet another elegant example of how Apple’s ecosystem offers users simple solutions to modern life’s annoyances.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ve probably become hyper-aware of how much you touch everything. Your face, your iPhone, the AirPods you never clean, the filthy handle on your apartment building’s front door, etc. And when you visit the store, using your iPhone’s Reminders app for your shopping list, you’re likely forever tapping the iPhone and using Face ID to wake it up again.
Clearly that’s useless if you’re being responsible and wearing a mask in the supermarket. Today we’ll see how to quickly toggle a “shopping mode” in the Drafts app, which will keep your iPhone awake while you dash down the aisles.
Face ID is great, as long as your iPhone can see your face. A mask — like the ones we all should be wearing to slow the coronavirus pandemic — blocks the iPhone’s Face ID sensor from seeing your face. That means you either need to remove the mask (bad) to unlock your iPhone, type in your passcode every time (annoying), or disable the passcode entirely (a terrible idea).
But, according to in-depth research from China’s Tencent Xuanwu Lab, you can train Face ID to work while you’re wearing a mask. It needs some careful setup, but once it’s done, it works reliablly and quickly. You can even wear glasses.
I wore a tubular scarf to the grocery store the other day, and spent most of the time breathing shallowly so my glasses wouldn’t steam up. On the bike it was fine, because the wind kept everything clear. But as soon as I stopped, the mask funneled my hot, moist breath onto my specs, and I couldn’t see.
Luckily, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department knows a thing or two about keeping your spectacles clear while you wear a mask. Here’s how to do it.