APPLE IS FACING our face-masked future. This week, the company started testing some new software for the iPhone that will let device owners unlock the handset while wearing a face covering. There’s a catch, though, one that lines up with Apple’s strategy of locking people in to different Apple products, and it highlights how challenging it can be to develop accurate facial recognition technology: The new face-unlock feature requires an Apple Watch.
The first developer beta of iOS 14.5 includes updates to app tracking controls and Siri alongside the face-mask function. App-makers typically get early access to the newest version of iOS in order to launch or retool their apps well in advance of the formal software release. (Brave souls who don’t mind the risk of potentially bricking their iPhones can also enroll in public beta releases.) The fully baked version of the software is expected to be made available to the general public this spring.