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How to unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch

A new update to iOS 14.5 opens your iPhone lightning fast, even while you're wearing a mask

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Mask wearing put a dent into FaceID, the tech that use facial recognition to unlock your iPhone X and above. Although Apple made an allowance during the pandemic to more quickly switch the iPhone's iOS to open the passcode option when it couldn't read your face — those used to having their phone unlock almost instantly had their experienced delayed.

Now, with iOS 14.5, those who use an Apple Watch Series 3 and higher, can use that device as the key to get the iPhone to launch almost instantly when it can't recognize its owners face.

There are a few steps you need to take before the two can interact seamlessly, but once those are put in place the iPhone opens — well, not as fast as before, but faster than it has in the past year.

Apple Watch iOS 14.5Apple Watch Series 3 and higher can act as a key for your iPhoneGearBrain

Here then is how to allow your Apple Watch to unlock your iPhone.

You'll start by making sure both your Apple Watch and iPhone are running the latest operating system available, that would be watchOS 7.4 and iOS 14.5. You also need to have an Apple Watch Series 3 and up, and an iPhone X and up.

To check the OS on your Apple Watch:

  • Open the Watch app on your iPhone
  • Click on "General"
  • Click on "About"
  • Look for "Version" and see that it says 7.4

To check the OS on your iPhone:

  • Open "Settings" on your iPhone
  • Go to "General"
  • Click on "About"
  • Look for "Software Version" and see that it reads 14.5

Apple iPhone setting for turn Apple Watch into keyYou need to make sure your Apple Watch is running watchOS 7.4 or the slider won't let you turn it to greenGearBrain

If both operating systems are up to date you now need to give the Apple Watch permission to act as a key for your iPhone. You'll turn on this feature in the iPhone's Settings:

  • Open Settings
  • Scroll down to "Face ID & Passcode"
  • Enter your iPhone's Passcode
  • Scroll down to "Unlock with Apple Watch"
  • You should see your own Apple Watch listed with a toggle that is gray. Tap on that to turn it green.

That's it. Your Apple Watch does need to be on your wrist — and close to the iPhone. It also has to be unlocked itself (which it typically is) and you need to have the Apple Watch also protected by a Passcode.

If all those are in place, you'll actually feel when the Apple Watch unlocks the iPhone because you'll get a haptic vibration on your wrist when it goes into this mode. You'll also get a visible notification on the Apple Watch screen.

Use The GearBrain, our compatibility find engine to see what other compatible devices will work with your Apple Watch and iPhone.

The GearBrain, First Compatibility Find Engine for Smart Deviceswww.youtube.com

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