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Apple Introduces Periocular Biometrics Mask Detection for Face ID

Apple has released the iOS 15.4 beta, which introduces a feature allowing Face ID to be used with a mask and without an Apple Watch for biometric authentication. The updated Face ID can now “recognize the unique features around the eye” but is admittedly less accurate than full-face authentication.

Currently available on iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models only, the new feature will require users to rescan their face biometrics for Face ID, then enable the option via a new toggle in Settings. Apple has also added a new feature to “Add Glasses” to make Face ID more accurate for users wearing glasses and a mask at the same time.

Face ID with a mask can be used to authenticate Apple Pay payments and with most apps using Face ID, unlike the prior Face ID feature that required an Watch to function. Apple first introduced mask detection back in 2020. However, the first version of the software merely skipped the Face ID authentication process when detecting a mask, prompting for a passcode entry instead.

Claims of face biometrics algorithms that could authenticate mask-wearing smartphone users began soon after the apparel became common around the world in early-2020, with VinAI an early example.

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