Face IDSource: Rene Ritchie / iMore

When Apple launched the iPhone X with Face ID, there was a limitation: only one face could be set up. This means that if you wanted someone else to be able to unlock your device (like a significant other in case of emergency), or if you just look really different with glasses or sunglass, a hat, or even a face mask, then you may run into issues unlocking the best iPhone or iPad with Face ID. Thankfully, Apple added the option to add a secondary, or alternate face to Face ID in iOS 12 and later. Here's how to get it all set up on your iPhone or iPad with Face ID.

Face ID Alternate Appearance: Which devices support Face ID?

As of March 2021, there are four generations of iPhone and four generations of iPad Pro that support Face ID.

iPhones with Face ID

iPads with Face ID

  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch

Face ID Alternate Appearance: How to set up an alternative appearance or second person

  1. Go to Settings on your iPhone or iPad with Face ID.
  2. Find Face ID & Passcode.
  3. Input your existing passcode.
  4. Find Set up an Alternate Appearance.

    How to set up an alternative apperance or second person to Face ID on iPhone by showing: Launch Settings, tap Face ID & Passcode, input passcode, tap Set Up Alternate AppearanceSource: iMore

  5. Follow the instructions on the screen to set up Face ID for the other person, or a drastically different version of yourself that your iPhone might see on a regular basis. This includes the use of face masks, heavy makeup, sunglasses, hats, etc.

Please note that you can only store one primary Face ID and one Alternate Face. If you want to change the secondary one, then you must reset Face ID.

Face ID Alternate Appearance: Why you should set up an Alternate Appearance

You may be asking yourself, "why would I want to give someone else access to my device with their face?" or "why do I need to set up an alternative appearance? Isn't it supposed to know who I am?"

Sometimes your significant other may need to use your phone for something, like making a phone call or looking something up and they don't have their own phone with them at the moment — it happens. So if you don't want to give them your passcode, which I think could be more sensitive, just let them set up their face as an "Alternate Appearance" so they can quickly get into your phone and not bug you for the passcode every time.

I think an Alternative Appearance is good to set up because it makes it easier for you to allow a completely different looking face to unlock your iPhone with Face ID. This also includes your own face, which may look slightly different when you wear a face mask, have heavy makeup on, have glasses or sunglasses or even a hat on, and more. Plus, it can even teach Face ID better, resulting in less issues.

I just wish that the Alternative Appearance allowed for more than just one more face, though. I think it should be similar to Touch ID, where you could store up to four or five fingerprints for the device to scan, which I always did (two fingers on both my left and right hands, and one for my significant other).

Are you using an Alternate Appearance for Face ID?

Face ID Alternate Appearance is just another way for us to have some level of security, but also a bit of a convenience compromise. Most of us don't need to lock down our devices quite so securely. I, for one, am glad for it.

Are you using Alternate Appearance? Sound off in the comments!

Updated March 2021: Updated with the latest models of iPhone and iPad Pro.