iPhone can now recognize when you’re wearing a face mask, streamlining unlocking process

BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 11: Customers who got appointments wearing medical masks wait to enter Apple Store in Berlin, Germany on May 11, 2020. Apple Store was opened after about a 2-month break. Germany gradually began to ease the precautions taken on March 22 against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. (Photo by Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) (Anadolu Agency, 2020 Anadolu Agency)

Apple is rolling out an easier way to unlock your iPhone while wearing a face mask.

In its latest software update for iOS, released to the public on Wednesday, Apple addresses a delay many people may have experienced when trying to unlock their phones while wearing a mask.

Previously, if you were using Face ID to open your phone, it would search for your full face but it was likely undetectable due to the mask, forcing you to wait a few seconds before typing in your passcode instead. Now, it will recognize when you're wearing face protection and give you the option to tap in your passcode immediately.

With the new software update, Apple is also introducing an API which supports apps from public health authorities that notify users if they have come into contact with a person who has Covid-19. It's part of a partnership with Google announced last month that intends to help authorities track exposure to the coronavirus using Bluetooth technology.

By adding virus-monitoring features into smartphones all over the world, Apple and Google aim to create a coronavirus warning system that could also help them better achieve their long-term goal of pushing deeper into the healthcare industry.

As of Wednesday, the companies said in a statement a “number” of US states and 22 countries have requested and received access to the API with more expected to join in the coming weeks.