Apple’s new beta feature to bypass Face ID using the Apple Watch when wearing a mask is very handy. I’ve already used it several times this morning and, while it’s a small thing, it definitely saves some time if you are constantly using your phone through the work day. However, I also ran into a small roadblock this morning. Apple Watch Unlock doesn’t work for everything that uses Face ID quite yet.
I was heading back to my hotel room after getting some ice this morning and I pulled out my phone and it immediately unlocked thanks to my Watch. No problem there. Masks are required at all Hiltons and I have no problem playing by the rules.
However, I then opened the Hilton app to unlock my room and discovered that Apple Watch Unlock doesn’t work with apps yet. Face ID attempted and failed and then kicked me out to the password screen. Unlike when unlocking the phone, you don’t get the option to fall back to your passcode, which I guess is more secure.
After fumbling for a second to get into my room, I tried a few more apps that are compatible with Face ID, such as my bank app, Dashlane and PayPal. They failed and went to password screens, as well. So it seems that Unlock With Apple Watch only works for unlocking the iPhone at the moment.
This feature is still part of a Beta release, so some rough edges are to be expected. I just wonder what the issue is here. Is Apple simply waiting to open this feature up for apps when it’s ready for release, or will developers have to specifically enable it inside of their apps? I would think the former, as making use of TouchID or Face ID for in-app security has just been a binary decision in the past. I event went to the screen under Settings-Face ID & Passcode that shows the apps granted permission to use Face ID. The apps still have binary toggle switches, with no additional choices or permissions to grant.
Either way, hopefully this is resolved by the time iOS and watchOS are updated. The ability to unlock your iPhone with an Apple Watch is really handy, but it won’t be a complete solution until it covers all use of Face ID.