Unlocking Phones of Masked Users

Apple’s upcoming upgrade to iOS 14.5 will make it possible to use an Apple Watch to use facial recognition to unlock your iPhone while wearing your mask. iPhone users without the watch and Android users will still have to jump through hoops to unlock their phones while masked. A year into the pandemic, we have to ask: Why has this taken so long?

Biometrics have long played a role in being able to unlock a cell phone. The first systems used a fingerprint for touch ID, and it has been a bellwether. Many cell phone users still rely on it. Face ID came along next, and many cell phone users rely on it to unlock phones quickly and easily. It’s as good as unencumbered gets.

But with COVID-19 and mask wearing, Face ID doesn’t work. If you want to use the technology while complying with public health needs, Face ID is about as cumbersome as it gets. The less-than-ideal workaround is something like this:

  1. Go to the Face ID option in the settings.
  2. Register for an alternate appearance by going to Set Up Alternate Appearance (or the Reset Face ID).
  3. Take a mask and fold it in half. Assuming the nose as the center point, put it in front of your face. It is recommended that you cover only the tip of the nose with the mask.
  4. Start registering your face like you normally do with the Face ID.  When the system prompts with a message “Face Obstructed,” start removing the mask very slowly until the system says move your head slowly to complete the circle.
  5. Once the process is done successfully, you will get a message that the Face ID is set up.

If this doesn’t work the first time, you’ll need to retry it. You may need to try another trick, such as selecting an alternate appearance option if it’s available.

Apple contends you should use a numeric code to unlock your phone while wearing a mask. They also note that manipulating the Face ID software could compromise your phone’s security. Most likely, they’d prefer you get an Apple Watch if you don’t already have.  

Once your iPhone is running iOS 14.5 and your Apple Watch has WatchOS 7.4 installed, you can turn on Unlock with Apple Watch with a few taps. Open the Settings app on your iPhone and then select Face ID & Passcode. Next, scroll down until you find the section titled Unlock with Apple Watch. The name of your Apple Watch should be listed there. Next to it is a toggle to turn the feature on or off. Slide that switch to the On position and then back out of the Settings app. 

Whenever you’re wearing a mask, all you’ll need to do is hold your phone up as normal to unlock it with Face ID. You’ll feel a haptic tap on your wrist, letting you know your watch was used to unlock your phone. The alert on your watch will also include a button to lock your phone in case it was unlocked by someone else. It’s a security feature to ensure someone else doesn’t pick up your phone and unlock it while wearing a mask.

You can expect to see iOS 14.5 in April. As the release date gets closer, we’ll pass along whatever we find out about other security features. Once it’s available, we’ll be on hand to help you configure your watch, phone and iPad if need be. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to find out what you’ll need to upgrade your iOS security.

Health Wearables in Style at CES

Wearables caught our eye at this year’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. There’s a wearable for almost any health condition, and that has its own set of pros and cons.

The big pro, as we see it, is that you can monitor so many health conditions, such as your heartbeat, blood pressure, blood sugar levels and if you have sleep apnea. A wearable can even detect AFib. The downsides, as we see them, are that there are too many proprietary technologies that require you to wear their own watch or wristband. That immediately conjured up in my mind an image of someone rolling up his sleeve and showing his arm full of watches – just like a guy trying to sell you something on the street.

We clearly will need some sort of a more ubiquitous watch, like an Apple Watch or Fitbit, to consolidate these capabilities into one wearable device. I would shudder at the thought of getting behind an overdressed health fanatic at airport security.

On a more helpful note, Amazon, Apple and Google are joining other internet and technology giants to join a project called “Connected Home Over IP”. The group aims to make it easier for device manufacturers to build products that are compatible with smart home and voice services such as Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant.

We like this development because it will reduce a lot of electronic clutter by allowing you to consolidate a variety of smart-home technologies into one platform. That can help you control them better from a smartphone, and it can help make your home more secure from hackers because you only need to worry about a single control point.

We’ve embraced a lot of smart-home technology in our family, and the convenience is a great benefit. But we’ve always wondered about where the security is. It’s up to us to demand better security from the internet industry and product manufacturers, and this is a step in that direction. However, it’s still up to you – more than ever – to secure your IoT devices to make your smart-home technology truly smart.

Finally, there was a lot of buzz over sex and technology. We’ll sidestep all the lurid details, but sex has always sold, so we’ll be in for more of it. One sex-product developer even won an award for innovation, but it was pulled after some heavy pushback.

Sex toys aside, more technology will continue to hit the markets for anything that affects your life – for work and for play. As you add more technology, you’ll need to make sure your network has the capacity to handle new devices and systems, and you’ll need to make sure it’s all secure. That’s where we can help. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to help get your new technology running.

How About an App to Navigate Airports?

Trying to cover the distance between gates for connecting flights can be a huge – if not insurmountable – problem for flyers. After catching our breath in Atlanta, I’d like an app that can tell me where my connecting flight is, how I get to that gate and how long it should take me once I finally get off the airplane.

Until somebody develops a universal app just for that, an increasing number of airports have their own apps, which include maps (helpful if you’re connecting to another flight or just beginning your visit at a destination). As part of your trip planning, see if the airports you’ll use have apps and download them ahead of time. That will make them quicker to access, especially if you need to scramble. You may be able to download information ahead of time that you can use offline to more easily find your way to baggage claim areas, ground transportation and rental car areas.

If you’re planning to travel during spring break or this summer, or if you’re a regular business traveler, there’s no shortage of apps that are useful or entertaining. Most are available from both the Apple Store or Google Play.

Handling Emergencies

The multitude of websites that let you find and book the best flights can be your best friend if you run into problems because of weather or delays that prevent you from making a connecting flight. If you’re flying routes served by multiple carriers, those apps can help you better identify your options, but they may not give you the immediate information you need. You may want to think about a premium app or premium version of a free app if you regularly run into the need to make changes on the fly.

Some apps you might want to look at include Kayak, GateGuru and TripIt. All offer you the ability to input your itinerary, which helps you know where you need to be and when, and all push out alerts with information about security wait times, flight and gate changes and similar information. As part of its premium service, TripIt can give you alternative flights when you run into trouble with weather delays or problems that can prevent you from making a flight.

Kayak syncs with your Apple Watch, which can be a welcome feature when you’re trying to get to a gate as quickly as possible.

App in the Air is a “personal flight assistant” that uses SMS texts to push information on flight changes, eliminating the need for an internet connection.

Whether you use one of these apps or your airline’s apps, use an app if you need to change a flight quickly instead of going to a desk and standing on a line. The app enables you to tap into the airline’s reservation system quickly to change a flight, select seats (if possible) and get your boarding passes.

While you may need to juggle apps, they can help you get a better outcome, and they’re faster if you have them installed and configured before you need them.

Getting There

Most likely, you’ll have used Google Maps or Waze to find the best route to the airport, and you – or rather one of your passengers – may have consulted the airline’s website or one of the many flight-tracker apps to make sure your flight is on schedule. If you’re coming from your home and need to park your car, there’s an Apple app, Airport Parking Reservations, that lets you compare and select off-site parking lots for some 150 airports in the US and Canada. And, of course, it lets you know about available discounts. There are many apps for parking reservations and discounts, but this one specializes in airports.

Getting Through Checkpoints

Once you have the car parked or if you’re on your ride to the airport, there are apps to check you in, get you through security and find a good place to hang out until boarding time. And if your phone is charged, you don’t need any paper.

If your airline doesn’t have an app to check you in, GateGuru, TripIt and Kayak are three of many apps that can help you check in and/or get to security.  They all give you security waiting times and airport maps to help you find your gate and amenities along the way. They’re all free for iOS and Android devices.

Going through security lines is usually the next challenge after checking in, and you can choose a variety of apps to help you or least give you information to help navigate the process. The TSA has its own app, My TSA, which gives you real-time info about wait times and updated information about what you can carry on a plane, etc. Its biggest advantage may be the info on which airports and airlines support TSA PreCheck® and how to sign-up.

For international travel, you can combine it with Mobile Passport. Officially authorized by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), it lets US and Canadian passport holders skip the customs and border protection lines at US airports. Simply fill out your profile and answer four of the CBP’s questions. Once they receive your data, you can go straight to the “Mobile Passport Control” express lane at 20 US airports and the Port Everglades cruise port in Florida. It’s a free app for iOS and Android, and while you won’t need it on your way out of the country, it can speed up the process when you return.

 Inside the Terminals

The apps we discussed earlier, TripIt, Kayak and GateGuru all provide info on flights and gates, amenities along the way and maps. Kayak now boasts maps with turn-by-turn directions, and it has a companion app that lets you see if better seats are available for your flight.

A growing number of airports worldwide now have their own apps, too, which give you information about amenities on the way to your gate – or to baggage claim – and maps.

One app that goes above and beyond just telling about restaurants and lounges is AirGrub, which is only available in a limited number of airports. It’s an Uber-type app that uses your flight info to help you locate participating restaurants near your gate. When you provide your flight info, you can view menus and arrange to have food delivered to the gate area before you board – all paid for through the app.

Of all the apps that center around airports, my favorite is LiveATC.net, which lets you listen to air traffic controllers in real time. It gives me a real feel for what’s going on with landings and takeoffs and helps me figure out how much time I’ll need to spend in the airport based on flight conditions.

If you have any questions about configuring travel apps or any apps for your mobile device, call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us for help. Especially when you travel, your app should be a resource – not a source of frustration.

Checking my Apple Watch for my Apple Car

The Apple Watch is due out soon, and that’s exciting. I can’t help but wonder if an Apple Watch will sound an alarm when my Apple Car is in. Regardless, I love what technology enables us to do.

When I use my Apple Watch – you all know I will have one as soon as it hits the market – I’ll be reminded of how technology affects our lives. It doesn’t seem that long ago that my father held a pager to a telephone to send the codes to his answering machine to pick up messages – which we now refer to as voice mail (that we can get through our cellphones).

That seems so primitive today. In setting up medical releases for our parents to use while caring for our children during our upcoming vacation, I realized that we had the wrong name on one set of instructions. Because I could go online with my iPhone and because I have Microsoft Word for my phone, I had the document already. So, I made the necessary changes and sent it back to the bank. How great is that?

Many of you take it for granted at your offices and homes that you can answer email, respond to text messages and update calendars seamlessly using computers and mobile devices – cellphones and tablets. If it’s not seamless, speak to us, and we can resolve that for you. I’m able to go online with my iPhone or iPad at clients to check things within their systems, and I can troubleshoot many problems remotely from anywhere – as long as I can get an Internet connection.

Those same Internet connections enable you and your associates to work remotely and access critical information to conduct your business more effectively. You not only ever give it a second thought, you demand it.

This spills into our personal use of technology. I have an app that allows me to see who’s ringing my doorbell – whether I’m home or not. If I’m not home, I can talk to the person at the door, and that’s very useful when I can’t be there to accept delivery of a package I need for a client.

Will I be able to use this app with an Apple Watch? Will I be able to use a lot of the apps from my iPhone, including Apple Pay? Will I be able to do things I haven’t been able to do before? The answer to the last question holds the most promise for me.

Indications are that answer is “yes.” I should be able to find out for sure well before the end of this month, and I should have mine by the middle of next month. You will need to have an iPhone (5c, 5s, 6 and 6+) to use the Apple Watch.

You can read a lot about the expected functions of the Apple Watch in this article by the British publication   ITPro. Some highlights, as reported in the article, include:

  • An expected price of about $350
  • Use with Apple Pay and health applications
  • The ability to build your own watch for appearance and function
  • Get messages and use other communications tools through your iPhone, including Siri to get directions
  • Customized applications, such as one with a hotel chain to automate the check-in process

Needless to say, app developers are already hard at work. For me, however, anticipation has wheels: a possible Apple car. Rumors have been abundant for the past few months about Apple entering the car business. As one recent TV news report shows, the company has a lot of cash and a lot of ambitions, especially as electric cars and more software and electronics become parts of all cars. Apple’s strength has been using hardware to house its software innovations, and as the video clip shows, software and electronics are an increasing part of a car’s value.

I could easily see an Apple Car – or an “Apple-driven” car – taking advantage of so many apps we use on our iPhones and iPads as well as the anticipated Apple Watch. It makes a lot of sense. Apple devices are widely used, and the company already has strong ties with all major cellular carriers. Extending those relationships to the global automotive industry would be a logical next step.

I’ll be checking my Apple Watch for new developments – but you don’t have to wait to take advantage of innovations. We can help you adopt and adapt to new technology in the office, at home and even in your car. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to make sure your Wi-Fi infrastructure is capable of meeting all of your needs. We can also help you – and your office and/or family – make sure all of your devices sync to each other and your entire office or home IT systems to give you all the functionality you’ve envisioned – and more.