New York MTA (transit agency) has asked Apple to make it possible for iPhone users unlock their phones without removing their masks. With the pandemic continuing to wreak havoc, we as a society have worked hard to try and get back to normal. Adapting on a daily basis to bring business back safely has been a regular thing. Public transit has also been a topic. Having people on board and enforcing the use of masks has been a challenge.
One of the biggest benefits of newer smartphones is the face recognition. Being able to pick up your device and unlock it without having to touch it is a wonderful convenience. The integration of people using their phones while in public does pose a problem though. Until the iOS 13.5 update, your phone would have to see you for a number of seconds before it defaulted to a passcode. Riders of public transit and those out in public would need to stare at their phone like zombies before they could unlock it.
When iOS 13.5 came out it provided a good middle ground. Your device can now sense that you have a mask on and will automatically default to the passcode. This is great for unlocking your phone. However, it does not make it possible to use your ‘my wallet’ app with your mask on. There doesn’t seem to be functionality to bypass facial recognition when making purchases with my wallet.
Patrick Foye, Metropolitan Transport Authority Chairman has contacted Tim Cook at Apple to request ability to unlock your phone with your mask on. This will enable riders to remain safe and still use their Apple devices. He has even gone so far as to offer to work with Apple to message it out should it become available.
“We understand Apple is working to address the issue and know that Apple has a range of technologies at its disposal as a global leader among tech companies,” Foye wrote in the letter sent Sunday. “We urge Apple to accelerate the deployment of new technologies and solutions that further protect customers in the era of COVID-19.”
Facial unlock provides a great deal of security. From unlocking your device to making purchases. Knowing that if you lose your phone, it will be very difficult for someone to use it to buy things offers a lot of peace of mind. Having said that, there is a significant gap in the era of COVID. I was recently in a store and had to awkwardly remove my mask temporarily to purchase something using my phone. I am sure this change won’t be easy, however for the safety of everyone I hope they can make it work.