How To Fix Unlock With Apple Watch Not Working
Last updated on August 12th, 2021 at 05:57 amPosted in How To by Patricia on May 9, 2021
Is Unlock with Apple Watch not working on your iPhone? Is the setting greyed out, inactive or not showing up at all? Here is what you have to do to allow your watchOS device to unlock your iPhone when Face ID fails to recognize your face, because you’re wearing a mask!
How Does Unlock With Apple Watch Work?
Apple has introduced this new feature in iOS 14.5. It’s intended to provide a workaround for when the iPhone fails to unlock, because the owner wears 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 recognises that the owner’s face is covered with a mask.
How To Enable Unlock With Apple Watch
- To turn on this new feature you have to open Settings.
- Browse for Face ID & Passcode.
- Type your iPhone’s passcode.
- Scroll for ‘Unlock With Apple Watch’ and enable it!
- Tap ‘Turn On’ to confirm that you agree that your iPhone will unlock when any mask is detected on your face.
Important: Your Apple Watch has to be turned on, unlocked and on your wrist for the activation process to work!
Fact: The authentication is performed automatically. There is no need for you to confirm it by tapping anything on the Apple Watch. Your wrist-worn gadget will issue a haptic feedback, to signal that it has been used for unlocking your iPhone. If you’re curious about it you can glance at its display and will see the ‘[iPhone name] Unlocked by this Apple Watch’, along with a Lock iPhone option, in case you didn’t intend to unlock.
Unlock With Apple Watch Not Available
However, because of technical limitations this helpful new feature isn’t available for all iPhone and Apple Watch owners. If ‘Unlock With Apple Watch’ is not showing up in Settings, check if you meet the following requirements:
1. Update To iOS 14.5 (Or later)
First of all, you have to update your iPhone to the latest software version available. This is done from Settings -> General -> Software Update.
2. Is Your Apple Watch Compatible?
Unfortunately only Apple Watch 3 owners and newer are able to unlock their iPhone from the wrist. The Apple Watch Series 2 and older aren’t watchOS 7 compatible thus, not able to update for this new feature. That’s because of technical limitations.
3. Is Your iPhone Supported?
Obviously, only iPhones that are equipped with the Face ID module are able to use this feature. This means that the iPhone X and later versions such as XS, 11 & 11 Pro, 12 & 12 Pro are compatible. That’s all iPhones that aren’t equipped with a physical Home Button.
Unlock With Apple Watch Greyed Out
Another issue that you might run into when trying to enable it is the greyed out On/Off toggle. This happens if you updated to iOS 14.5 and own a compatible Apple Watch, but the wrist-worn device isn’t updated to watchOS 7.4 or later.
Fix: In this case open the Watch app on your iPhone. In the ‘My Watch’ tab browse for General -> Software Update. Download and install the latest version available.
Unlock With Apple Watch Not Working
If you’ve configured all settings properly and your iPhone still doesn’t unlock automatically when you wear a mask also check the following:
– Your Apple Watch is on your wrist and is unlocked.
– You’re actively using a Passcode with your Apple Watch.
– Apple Watch is not in AirPlane Mode!
Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch Extra Fix
Mike reports that he managed to troubleshoot the Unlock with Apple Watch feature only after he kept the watchOS device unlocked, and active when trying to unlock the iPhone. As soon as the Watch succesfully unlocked the iPhone, unlock with Apple Watch started working also when the Watch’s screen was asleep.
Can you confirm this workaround? Use the comments section!
Unlock With Apple Watch Facts
– Did you know that Apple’s new feature works with a full-face motorcycle helmet as well as full-face ski helmet?
Conclusion: ‘Unlock With Apple Watch’ is a much awaited feature that saves a lot of time when using your iPhone while wearing a mask. It does help with authentication in other instances when Face ID is needed, like authorizing app downloads, signing into Face ID protected apps and so on!
What do you think about this new feature? Are you able to use it? Do you recommend any improvements? Don’t hesitate to share your feedback in the comments section available below, especially if you encounter other problems that haven’t been addressed by this article!
Related: If you don’t own a compatible Apple Watch, you can attempt to trick Face ID to unlock your iPhone when wearing a mask by applying this trick! You can also temporary disable Face ID and Passcode, as explained here (not recommended)!
I followed the above and my series 6 watch STILL did not unlock my iPhone 11 Pro (both with the latest OS) when I had a mask on.
It had previously worked but I had to un-sync my watch and iPhone for reasons unrelated.
All I was seeing on the Apple Watch was the message “My iPhone unlocking with this Apple Watch….” However the iPhone remained locked.
I have however managed to finally fix my issue. How? I found that on the first occasion you attempt the feature the Apple watch needed to be open (in use / awake) i.e. not in sleep mode or whatever mode it is when the watch is unlocked on your wrist but not being looked at.
Once I had the watch awake and I tried to unlock my iPhone the watch unlocked it, now the watch unlocks each time even if the watch display is dim.
So if you have tried all the above and your still stuck try this last tip .
Thanks for sharing this Mike. That’s interesting. Not sure if this is normal behavior, or the way Apple intended for the feature to work, or just a workaround that you managed to find to fix unlock iPhone with Apple Watch not working.
P.S.: I will add your finding in the main content of the article.