iOS 14.5: Face ID now unlocks your iPhone with a mask. But there’s a catch

Unlocking your iPhone with Face ID while wearing a face mask or other face covering is an exercise in frustration. Instead of your iPhone unlocking as soon as the screen lights up, you’re instantly asked to enter your PIN code. It’s incredibly annoying.

Apple has a workaround for its facial recognition quandary, and it’s included in iOS 14.5. With it, you’ll be able to unlock your iPhone instantly, therefore avoiding having to type in your pin each time you want access, or taking off your mask and putting it on again. The iOS 14.5 update is currently in beta, but with an Apple event taking place on April 20, it’s safe to assume the update is getting closer to a public release. (You can sign up for the public beta if you don’t want to wait a minute longer.)

There’s a catch, however: You have to have an Apple Watch. That’s right, Apple borrowed the Apple Watch unlock feature for Mac users, and brought it to the iPhone. Below I’ll walk you through how to set up the new feature, and even show you how it works.

Turn on Unlock with Apple Watch

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, enter your PIN when asked. 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. 

How you’ll use the new unlock feature

Going forward, whenever you’re wearing a face covering, all you have to do is hold your phone up like you normally would 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 is more than just an acknowledgment that your phone was unlocked, though. It includes a button to lock your phone, in case it was unlocked by someone else. It’s a security feature to ensure that someone else doesn’t pick up your phone and unlock it while wearing a mask. While unlikely that it will happen, it’s a reassuring fallback method to keep your data safe.

Unlock with Apple Watch is one of many new features in iOS 14. Improvements include plenty of hidden features, along with new privacy features and the ability to create custom app icons.

Google Home: 7 commands you need to use every day

“Hey, Google” might be an integral part of your day, but you might not know everything you can do with Google Home Assistant. Spoiler alert: The possibilities are almost endless. We’re talking about recipe help in the kitchen to waking up on time in the morning, keeping party guests entertained and catching up on your favorite podcasts. Google Home can do a ton.

We’ve got seven essential tips you’ll use on the regular.

Light it up

Equipping your house (or even just one room) with smart light bulbs is another way to take advantage of Google Home. You do need special light bulbs to make this one work, and they’re quite a bit more expensive than your average bulb. We use Philips Hue’s smart LEDs in our bedroom. It’s really nice if I’m reading in bed with the lights on and start to get drowsy. All I need to say is “Hey Google, turn the lights off.” To bring the light back up, just say “Hey Google, turn on the lights.” You can also specify brightness, dimness and change the color.

Google Home supports a number of bulbs now in addition to Philips Hue like Lifix and others. To add a new bulb, make sure your app is up to date, tap Add > Set up device > New Devices > Next. From there, follow the on-screen instructions.

Cool off or warm up

We invested in a Nest thermostat for our home this year and if you’re as particular about the temperature as I am, I highly recommend. After you add the device to your Google Home app, you can ask Google to set your thermostat to a specific temperature. You can also make incremental changes (i.e. “OK, Google, raise the temperature 1 degree.

You can control the thermostat from the app too, no talking necessary (Google Home app > choose the thermostat icon > change the temperature) One of my favorite parts about the Nest is that it learns how you like your temperature and adapts. For example, our Nest gets cooler at night before bed and warms up before we leave for work. The Nest can also remind you to change your air filter. 

An added bonus to setting an alarm

Asking Google to wake you up in the morning is a bit easier than setting the alarm on your phone’s clock or — gasp — a real clock. Simply say, “Hey Google, set my alarm for…” and give your desired time. The alarm will sound and to shut it off, you just have to say “stop.”

Of course, you don’t have to be turning in for the night to use the alarm. You can also say “Hey Google, set a timer for…” which keeps your hands free during workouts, cooking or if you’re coloring your hair. To silence the alarm, again, just say “stop.” You don’t have to say, “Hey Google or OK Google” before that.

Music, news and podcasts, oh my!

To play your favorite songs podcasts, make sure your preferred music app — YouTube Music, Google Play Music, Spotify, Pandora and Deezer are supported — is linked to your Google Home app. From there, you can ask Google to play a specific song or genre (i.e. “Hey Google, play ’90s rock“). If you like a song, you can ask Google to save it on the app. To end your tunes “Hey Google, stop the music” is your go to phrase.

You can also use the smart speaker with podcasts, but you have to ask for a specific one (i.e. “…play My Favorite Murder”). If you stopped listening in the middle of an episode, either on Google Home or your phone, it’ll pick up where you left off. To hear the headlines you can customize your favorite news sources on the Google Home app and change the order they’re played in. Most news stations have a podcast, so you can ask Google to play that, as well.

Get the weather forecast, today’s and next week’s

Are you going to need an umbrella today? Did it just get really cold? Just ask Google what the weather is like and it will give you the current temperature and an overview for the rest of the day wherever you are. Google can give forecasts further out, as well, if you ask for the weekend or next week.

Game time

Google has a few games — I’d recommend trying Mad Libs, Lucky Trivia, or Song Quiz first. These can be fun party games or a good way to keep kids occupied on a rainy afternoon. 

Movies playing nearby

The days of calling the movie theater and listening to a recording read titles are long gone. When you ask “Which movies are playing?,” Google will list a few titles, and ask which film interests you. From there, Google can help you pick a time and tell you how to purchase tickets at your nearest theater through Fandango.

Your iPhone has a completely hidden app. Here’s how to find and use it

Apple’s iPhone is full of hidden features and tricks we’re constantly discovering. For instance, did you know the Notes app has a hidden document scanner? Yeah, pretty cool. The latest hidden feature that’s been popping up on Twitter and blogs is another type of scanner, dedicated to QR codes, and it’s better than the one built into the camera app.

Yes, you can already scan QR codes using the shortcut in Control Center, or just open the camera app and it will scan a QR code. And you’re right. Both of those methods work just fine. But the dedicated Code Scanner app takes the job one step further by presenting more of the information I want to see about a scanned code.

For example, the camera app uses a small notification at the top of the screen to open a link or show you information, whereas the dedicated Code Scanner app makes it very clear what’s inside the QR code you just scanned. But here’s the rub: The Code Scanner app isn’t found on your home screen, nor is it found in iOS 14’s new App Library.

As far as I can tell, the only way to find the Code Scanner app is to use the iPhone’s Spotlight search feature. Go to your iPhone’s home screen and swipe down in the middle of the screen. A search bar will appear at the top of your screen, along with app and shortcut suggestions below. Type either code or scanner. As you type, you’ll see the Code Scanner app icon show up as an app suggestion. Tap to open it.

The flashlight icon at the bottom of the screen acts as a flash to illuminate a code if your phone is struggling to read it. 

If you don’t have the QR scanner shortcut added to Control Center yet, here’s a post showing you how to customize Control Center to your liking. For more hidden features, check out our list for iOS 14. We also cover more general, but useful features in iOS 14.

NASA picks SpaceX and Starship to send Artemis astronauts to the moon

The next humans to visit the surface of the moon will catch a ride courtesy of not only NASA, but Elon Musk and SpaceX.

The space agency announced Friday that it’s selected the high-profile rocket and satellite builder to provide the human landing system for its Artemis program, which aims to send the first astronauts to the moon since the end of the Apollo program, including the first woman to step on the lunar surface, later this decade.

SpaceX already has a vehicle in mind and under development for the job. Starship is the next generation spacecraft that’s already made some dramatic test flights from the company’s Texas Gulf Coast development facility. So far, each high-altitude flight has been followed by an explosive landing phase, but Musk isn’t deterred.

Starship is designed to transport astronauts to the moon and many more humans to other worlds like Mars, where Musk hopes humanity will expand to become a “multiplanetary species.”

SpaceX won the massive NASA contract by bidding $2.9 billion for the job, beating out Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Alabama-based military and space contractor Dynetics.

According to a statement from NASA, Artemis astronauts won’t be riding Starship all the way from the Earth to the lunar surface, at least not to start. Instead, a quartet of astronauts will launch aboard NASA’s long-delayed Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft on a multiday trip to lunar orbit. NASA is planning to build a small space station called the Lunar Gateway in orbit around the moon that’ll serve as a staging outpost for trips to the moon itself.

In lunar orbit, astronauts will transfer to a waiting Starship for the trip to the surface, a period of exploration followed by a return to lunar orbit and then back home on Orion.

In a press conference following the announcement, NASA’s human landing system chief, Lisa Watkins-Morgan, also revealed that SpaceX will need to perform an uncrewed test landing on the moon before taking astronauts there. This is in line with the approach taken with the company’s Crew Dragon that took astronauts to the International Space Station for the first time last year.

NASA had hoped to make awards to two companies in order to make the process competitive, but the agency had the funding for only one, making SpaceX’s low bid attractive.

SpaceX is also further along in the development process than any other company and has long intended to send Starship to the moon and Mars, with or without NASA’s support.