In order to unlock your Apple device with Face ID, your face should be fully visible. A new pair of glasses or piercings usually do not cause any problems – but the situation is different when it comes to protective masks. They are becoming part of everyday life due to the Coronavirus crisis and problems with unlocking the device using Face ID are a natural consequence.

Despite the fact that this so called “problem” may be considered as an issue of luxury for most, there are people who would greatly value the ability to unlock their iPhone with Face ID while wearing protective equipment; namely people who work in health care such as doctors, nurses, care takers or laboratory staff.

Researchers at Tencent’s Xuanwu Lab have discovered that by wearing a mask on one side of the face during the set-up process, face recognition is supposed to work despite the protective mask being worn. The Wall Street Journal published an article about this and 9to5Mac also provided step-by-step instructions. The latter is now available here. Important to know: The mask must be covering half of your face, which can be done by folding it.

Head to Settings > Face ID & Passcode

You can either try to perform the first step “Configure alternative appearance” or reset Face ID completely via “Reset Face ID”

Once you have selected “Set up Face ID” or “Configure alternative appearance”, fold your mask in half and hold it against your face

If an error message appears on your iPhone, move your mask slowly away from the center of your face until you are prompted to “move your head slowly to complete the circle” (Xuanwu Lab recommends covering only the tip of your nose; if you cover too much, you will get an error message)

Perform two scans of your face with the mask folded in the same direction

You should see “Face ID is now set up”

Put on your mask, cover your whole face with it and test if the unlocking of the iPhone works

Here’s how these steps look:Go to “Settings” -> Face ID & Code

Should you notice after the setup with these steps that the face recognition still doesn’t work properly, 9to5Mac provides further optional steps.

Return to “Settings” -> “Face ID & Code

Tap “Configure Alternate Appearance” (if you selected “Configure Alternate Appearance” for step 1 above, you will need to reset Face ID and run part 1 again for the primary face and run part 2 as an alternate appearance)

Fold the mask and put it on the other side of your face you used for part 1

Perform the two Face ID setup scans

Put on your mask and cover your whole face

Test if it works

Face ID should still work when you are not wearing your mask

According to 9to5Mac, the team was able to trigger a Face ID Unlock with the protective mask on after following the instructions listed above. However, while they’ve found this to work in their testing, they haven’t been able to try it with a face shield. Unfortunately, I don’t have a face mask or a face shield at hand either – do you? Did you manage to set up Face ID with a mask?