So, you bought a brand new iPhone 13, 13 mini, 13 Pro, or 13 Pro Max. Congratulations! Are you enjoying the new and improved cameras? The 120 Hz pro displays? Or are you pissed because your $1,000 iPhone won’t unlock when you’re wearing a mask—even though your old iPhone did just fine? Let’s help you fix this “Unlock with Apple Watch” bug.
What is ‘Unlock with Apple Watch’?
Apple released this feature with iOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4 during the height of the pandemic, as a remedy for needing to unlock our Face ID iPhones while wearing a mask. With the feature set up, your iPhone won’t reject you for wearing a mask; instead, it takes that partial face scan and checks in with your Apple Watch. If your watch is unlocked and on your wrist, the iPhone unlocks as well.
It’s a great feature for these masked-up times we find ourselves in. However, it seems Apple was thinking “the pandemic will be over by then” when testing the iPhone 13, as the “Unlock with Apple Watch” feature just doesn’t work. The company has even stated as much, claiming that a fix is in the works.
How to fix the ‘Unlock with Apple Watch’ bug
Luckily, there is a fix for this issue; Apple has a patch for this bug baked into iOS 15.1, as well as watchOS 8.1. However, these updates aren’t available to the public yet, as they are still in beta testing. If you want to restore functionality to “Unlock with Apple Watch” right now, you’ll need to download and install the betas on your iPhone and Apple Watch.
1. Download the developer betas
Right now, these betas are available to registered iOS developers. If you’re not a registered developer, there’s nothing stopping you from becoming one, short of the $100 annual fee. If that works for you, you can follow our guide on downloading the iOS developer beta to your iPhone here.
We also have a guide for downloading the watchOS developer beta, however, it is geared for public testers. The only difference is really where you download the beta from; you’ll just download your profile from Apple’s developer download page instead of the public beta website.
2. Download the public betas
If you’re not a developer, you can download a dev beta profile from the internet, but it’s not safe. You really should only download beta profiles from official sources. Instead, just wait; Apple will likely seed public beta testers 15.1 beta 2 and watchOS 8.1 beta 2 soon. The developer seeds for these betas came out on Sept. 28, and Apple usually releases the public versions 24 hours later.
If you’re not signed up for the public betas already, you can follow our iPhone guide here, and our Apple Watch guide here. The first public betas for iOS 15.1 and watchOS 8.1 are already out, so if you install them on your devices now, it’ll be a breeze to update to public beta 2 on both devices when available.
Alternatively, wait for iOS 15.1 and watchOS 8.1
Of course, if betas aren’t your thing, you can always wait for Apple to release iOS 15.1 and watchOS 8.1. There’s no telling when that will happen, sadly, but since there’s a rather important bug fix in this beta, we imagine Apple is working quickly to ship out this new software. We will update this article when iOS 15.1 and watchOS 8.1 drop, so you can get back to unlocking your iPhone 13 with your Apple Watch.