Today, we’re going to talk a bit about product design.  It’s one of my areas of interest, and there’s something new that I’m super excited about that I need to share.  I’d also like to give a quick shout out to my brilliant wife who found this and showed it to me.

Since the start of the pandemic, there’s a problem that has been driving me up the wall (and yes, I know this is a first world problem, and doesn’t compare to the real suffering of patients with COVID, their families, or all of the people suffering economic hardship – but go with me on this).  While I’m working in the hospital, I’m wearing a mask all day long (and BTW, I love these neck bands that I can anchor the straps of the mask to, so they don’t bother my ears), and this leads to a constant annoyance – Face ID doesn’t work while wearing a mask.  So, I have to type in my passcode every time I open the phone (which has to be 6 digits instead of 4 because of EHR security) – and since I get secure messages on my phone for patient related matters, this is going on all day long.  And it’s driving me crazy.  I’ve been dying for a way to open my phone without typing a code while wearing a mask all year, pining away for the halcyon days of Touch ID.

Well, Apple has finally figured out a way to open your phone with Face ID even when you’re wearing a mask.  You have to have an apple watch (which, of course I do), and update the iOS to the public beta for both your phone (14.5) and your watch (7.4).  But if you do, and if you’re wearing your watch, and your watch has a passcode, and your watch has “Wake on Wrist Raise” enabled, Face ID can unlock your phone even when you’re wearing a mask!  (Here’s the link that my wife found with step-by-step instructions).  This has been an enormous improvement to my day.  Every time I get a secure text, I just take out my phone like I used to (in the distant pre-COVID past) and it just opens right up.  It brought a smile to face dozens of times at work yesterday.

This really drives home the importance of customer experience.  I can’t think of anything I want more as a company than to have my product making my customers smile all day long.  So, congrats to Apple for finally figuring this out and making my life, and the lives of everyone else using their phone all day long while wearing a mask, a little bit easier.  And hopefully this will be out of beta soon so everyone can use it without jumping through hoops first.

PS: BTW, I know that people have tried a workaround where you put the mask on half your face and create that as a new Face ID profile, but I could never get that to work

PPS: I’m sure there’s going to be some android user who knows some magic way to do this with their Android device and has been doing it for the last 6 months.  I haven’t found anything about this, but I’m not an Android guy – so if you have an android solution, please leave it in the comments.

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