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iOS 14.5 includes the one feature we've been waiting for

iPhone iOS 14.5 watchOS 7.4 Unlock with Apple Watch
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The iOS 14.5 beta brings one of the best Covid-19 era features to the iPhone. As everyone is having to wear face masks throughout the pandemic, using Face ID on iPhones has become a challenge. Luckily, Apple has implemented a solution that's so good that we had to install it on some of our personal devices.

There is a catch. Users will need an Apple Watch to make it work. Installing it also isn't as straightforward as it should be. So, we've decided to make the complete guide to setting up unlock for any of the best Apple Watch models in iOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4.

The one thing you should know about your own security is that the Apple Watch will get a small buzz and notification when you use this feature — and there's a Lock iPhone button in case your iPhone is being unlocked without your intent.

Oh, and yes, you have two betas to download, as this requires the watchOS 7.4 beta. And you can't install that first, so you're going to want to do the iOS 14.5 beta version first.

1. Check your iPhone and Apple Watch models

Only the following iPhone and Apple Watch models can support iOS 14 and watchOS 7. I tested it on the Apple Watch 5 with an iPhone 12 Pro Max.

2. Backup your iPhone

Make an archived backup of your iPhone. You could just backup to iCloud, but doing this locally means you've got more ready access to the backup. Plug your iPhone into your Mac via a Lightning cable, and open Finder (or iTunes if you're on macOS Mojave or earlier). Find your iPhone in the left menu, check the boxes for "Back up all of the data on your iPhone" and "Encrypt local backup" — the latter keeps your health data active. Enter a password for the backup, click Apply and watch your iPhone back up.

Then click Manage Backups, right-click on your backup, select Archive and click OK.

You need to do this in case something goes wrong — beta software always comes with potential hiccups. If it were perfect and ready they'd just ship it to everyone. 

3. Install the iOS 14.5 public beta

The first thing you're going to need to do is move your iPhone to the public beta of iOS. You'll also have to do this for watchOS.

To do this, visit Apple's Beta Software Program, and click Sign in or Sign up to log in with your Apple ID.

iOS 14.5 watchOS 7.4 public betas

(Image credit: Apple)

Then, click Get Started. Under iOS 14, in the Get Started section, tap "enroll your iOS device. Under Install Profile, tap Download profile. Then, tap Allow and then tap Close.

iOS 14.5 watchOS 7.4 public betas

(Image credit: Apple)

In the Settings app, tap General and then tap Profile. Next, tap the downloaded iOS 14 & iPadOS 14 Beta Software Profile and then tap Install. You may need to restart your phone.

Next, in Settings, tap General and then Software Update to install the iOS public beta. This could take a while, but not as long as your local iPhone backup.

iOS 14.5 watchOS 7.4 public betas

(Image credit: Apple)

4. Install watchOS 7.4 public beta

Go back to the Apple's Beta Software Program on your iPhone, sign in and tap Get Started. Then, tap the watchOS tab and tap "enroll your Apple Watch" under Get Started.

Tap Download profile, and then tap Allow and tap Install (in the Watch app you've been switched to). In the Watch app, tap General and tap Software Update. And now install the available watchOS 7.4 public beta.

5. Enable Unlock with Apple Watch

On your iPhone, in Settings, tap FaceID & Passcode.

Scroll down to Unlock with Apple Watch, which will have a toggle switch next to the name of your watch. Turn this switch on.

6. Use Unlock with Apple Watch

After unlocking your Apple Watch (either through Face ID or your PIN number), your phone should unlock when you have a face mask on — provided you do a couple of things. Mastering these little tricks will take away all the friction of using Face ID with a face mask on.

iPhone Apple watch face unlock masks iOS 14.5 watchOS 7.4

(Image credit: Apple)

The main trick to know about this feature is that your iPhone should be near your Apple Watch. That means I'm keeping my iPhone in the pocket near the arm where I'm wearing the Apple Watch.

Once I started doing that, it all worked like magic. 

Be sure to check out our Apple Watch guide for more tips and tricks. Our best Apple Watch deals can help you find discounts on Apple's smartwatches, too.