iOS 15.4 supports Apple Pay Face ID authentication while wearing a mask

How to use Face ID on the iPhone X
How to use Face ID on the iPhone X (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple's iOS 15.4 beta allows people to use Face ID and Apple Pay while wearing a mask.
  • Previously, Apple Watches could unlock iPhones while people wore masks, but Apple Pay was not supported.
  • Apple's first beta of iOS 15.4 is available to developers now.

Apple's new iOS 15.4 beta adds support for using Face ID unlock when you are wearing a mask. More testing has shown that the feature also works with Apple Pay, too.

Apple made its first developer beta of iOS 15.4 available yesterday and the standout feature, at least initially, was the addition of support for using Face ID even when wearing a face mask. That's a huge deal, but it turns out things actually go a step further — with the beta installed you can even use Apple Pay while wearing a mask, too.

While Apple is now comfortable enough with Face ID that it allows it to function while a mask obscures half of your face, it does still believe that it works best when a full set of features can be seen as outlined by the onboarding text people see after installing iOS 15.4.

Face ID is most accurate when it's set up for full-face recognition only. To use Face ID while wearing a mask, iPhone can recognize the unique features around the eye to authenticate.

While Apple has allowed people to unlock their iPhones using their Apple Watch since the arrival of watchOS 7.4 last year, that never supported Apple Pay. This latest move is a huge deal for those wearing masks in stores and has worked relatively well in early testing — especially considering its early beta status.

We don't yet know when Apple will make iOS 15.4 available to the public, but it's likely a public beta release will happen in the coming days assuming no showstopping bugs are discovered.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.