iOS 14.5 includes a major enhancement for using Face ID on your iPhone while wearing a mask. With the first developer beta of iOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4, your iPhone will now automatically unlock when you’re wearing a face mask.

In addition to App Tracking Transparency controls and support for AirPlay 2 with Apple Fitness+, iOS 14.5 includes this notable change to how Face ID works with face masks.

As reported by Joanna Stern from The Wall Street Journal, the new “Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch” feature works when Face ID detects that you’re wearing a face mask. If you’re wearing a mask, Stern explains, and have an unlocked Apple Watch on your wrist, your iPhone will unlock with Face ID.

One thing to keep in mind here is that if you disable the Apple Watch wrist detection feature, then you will not be able to unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch. Apple says:

iPhone can use your Apple Watch to unlock when Face ID detects a face with a mask. Your Apple Watch must be nearby, on your wrist, unlocked, and protected by a passcode.

For security’s sake, you can also quickly re-lock your iPhone from your Apple Watch.

This is the second notable change Apple has made with how Face ID works with face masks. Last April with the release of iOS 13.5, Apple made it easier to skip the Face ID prompt while wearing a mask by automatically presenting the passcode screen.

We’re still diving into this feature to learn more, but it’s a major change to how the iPhone and Apple Watch work together. This is a feature that many users have been calling on Apple to add since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and even before.

If you spot any other changes in iOS 14.5 beta 1, or the other new betas from Apple today, let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @9to5Mac. Stay tuned for our full hands-on coverage with the new releases right here at 9to5Mac today.

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