Coronavirus breaks my iPhone: FaceID doesn't work when you wear a mask

Privileged person problem: When I go to the supermarket, I keep the shopping list on my iPhone. When I’m wearing a mask, Face ID doesn’t recognize me. I have to open my iPhone by entering the passcode a dozen times or more.

I heard about a feature called “Setup Alternate Appearance” for situations where you have an “appearance that can look vastly different.

I tried it with my mask on this morning. Nope, didn’t work. It said I had something obscuring my face and I should try again.

Joanna Stern has more on the whys and wherefores at the Wall Street Journal. The iPhone needs to see your eyes, nose and mouth. It’ll work for many sunglasses but not all. It supposedly works when men grow and shave off facial hair, and when women wear or don’t wear makeup.

There’s apparently a workaround to the mask problem: masks printed with images of the lower parts of faces on them!

Doctors who’ve been living with this problem for years offer suggestions: Just use pen and paper, bunch up your interactions with the iPhone in batches all at once, tell someone you trust to unlock the phone for you, ir continue typing in your passcode like a savage.

Stern notes, and I can confirm, that you can punch in your passcode and otherwise use your iPhone while wearing thin nitrile gloves on with trivial additional inconvenience. 🌕

Mitch W @MitchW