Apple Watch unlocking not working on your iPhone? Is the setting grayed out, inactive, or not showing at all? Here’s what you need to do to enable your watchOS device to unlock your iPhone when Face ID doesn’t recognize your face because you’re wearing a mask!
How does unlocking work with Apple Watch?
Apple introduced this new feature in iOS 14.5. It is intended to provide a workaround when the iPhone fails to unlock because the owner is wearing a mask. Unlock with Apple Watch uses the secure connection between your wrist-worn device and its iOS companion to replace Face ID whenever the TrueDepth camera recognizes that the owner’s face is covered with a mask.
How to activate unlock with Apple Watch
- To activate this new feature, you must open Settings.
- Search Face ID and access code.
- Type your iPhone password.
- Scroll down to ‘Unlock with Apple Watch’ and activate it!
- Tap ‘Light up’ to confirm that you agree to your iPhone unlocking when a mask is detected on your face.
Important: Your Apple Watch must be on, unlocked, and on your wrist for the activation process to work!
Made: Authentication is performed automatically. You don’t need to confirm this by pressing anything on the Apple Watch. Your gadget worn on your wrist will emit haptic feedback, indicating that it has been used to unlock your iPhone. If you’re curious, you can take a look at its screen and see the ‘[iPhone name] Unlocked by this Apple Watch ‘, with a Lock iPhone option, in case you don’t intend to unlock.
Unlock with Apple Watch not available
However, due to technical limitations, this useful new feature is not available to all iPhone and Apple Watch owners. If “ Unlock with Apple Watch ” does not appear in Settings, check if you meet the following conditions:
1. Update to iOS 14.5 (or later)
First of all, you need to update your iPhone to the latest available software version. This is made from Settings -> General -> Software Update.
2. Is your Apple Watch compatible?
Unfortunately, only Apple Watch 3 and newer owners can unlock their iPhone from the wrist. Apple Watch Series 2 and earlier versions are not compatible with watchOS 7 and therefore cannot update this new feature. This is because of technical limitations.
3. Is your iPhone supported?
Obviously, only iPhones equipped with the Face ID module can use this feature. This means iPhone X and later versions like XS, 11 & 11 Pro, 12 & 12 Pro are compatible. These are all iPhones that do not come with a physical home button.
Unlock with Apple Watch greyed out
Another issue you might run into when trying to turn it on is the grayed out on / off toggle. This happens if you’ve updated to iOS 14.5 and have a compatible Apple Watch, but the wrist-worn device isn’t updated to watchOS 7.4 or later.
To fix: In this case, open the Watch app on your iPhone. In the ‘My watch’ search tab General -> Software update. Download and install the latest version available.
Unlock with Apple Watch not working
If you have configured all the settings correctly and your iPhone still does not automatically unlock when you wear a mask, also check the following:
– Your Apple Watch is on your wrist and is unlocked.
– You are actively using a Password with your Apple Watch.
– Apple Watch is not in airplane mode!
Unlock with Apple Watch Facts
– Did you know that Apple’s new functionality works with a full face motorcycle helmet as well as a full face ski helmet?
Conclusion: “Unlock with Apple Watch” is a much anticipated feature that saves a lot of time when using your iPhone with a mask. This helps with authentication in other cases when Face ID is needed, like authorizing app downloads, signing in to Face ID protected apps, etc.
What do you think of this new feature? Can you use it? Do you recommend improvements? Please feel free to share your feedback in the comments section available below, especially if you run into any other issues that weren’t covered by this article!
Related: If you don’t have a compatible Apple Watch, you can try to trick Face ID to unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask by applying this trick! You can also temporarily disable Face ID and Passcode as explained here (not recommended)!