Apple's new iOS 13.5 beta brings with it some notable changes, including the first version of its coronavirus exposure notification API for public health authorities. That's not the only COVID-19 feature that Apple has added to the update, though.
With the iOS 13.5 update, your iPhone will recognize if you're wearing a mask and skip Face ID entirely and will instead ask you for your passcode when you swipe up to unlock it (via The Verge). This feature is currently only live in the iOS 13.5 beta but will likely be included in the final update that goes out to users.
Normally when you've got an iPhone 11, iPhone XS, or iPhone X series device with Face ID, the face unlock feature will try to scan your face a couple of times before asking for a passcode. It won't recognize you if you're wearing a mask, though. That could get annoying if you're wearing a mask regularly and you have to wait 10 or 15 seconds for Face ID to fail twice before you can enter your passcode and unlock your phone.
As pointed out by @Sonikku_a2, if you’re wearing a mask, iOS 13.5 goes straight to the passcode screen if you try to unlock with Face ID (keypad not shown because iOS hides it in screen recordings) pic.twitter.com/bQCzu5u20p
— Guilherme Rambo (@_inside) April 29, 2020
With this new unlocking feature, you can keep Face ID on for the times that you're at home and not wearing a mask but then skip face unlock entirely and manually enter your passcode while you're out and wearing a mask.
This is a pretty nice feature for Apple to add in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. More and more people are wearing masks when they go out to help fight the spread of COVID-19, and this enables them to unlock and use their phone with less friction while they're wearing a mask.
Apple hasn't said when iOS 13.5 will be released to the public.