iOS 15.1 beta 2 fixes iPhone 13 bug preventing masked users from using “Unlock with Apple Watch”

Apple has seeded iOS 15.1 beta 2 to registered developers. This update comes exactly a week after the first beta rolled out. Beta 1 re-enabled SharePlay after Apple had disabled it in later builds of iOS 15 beta before the stable release. The first iOS 15.1 beta also enabled users to add their COVID-19 vaccination certificates to Apple Wallet in supported countries (if your country doesn’t support it, we’ve got you covered!). With iOS 15.1 Beta 2, Apple fixes an annoying bug that was affecting iPhone 13 users.

The iPhone 13 bug

Soon after users worldwide got their hands on their brand new iPhone 13 models, complaints started spreading all over the internet. A bug in the iPhone 13 lineup prevented masked users from unlocking their iPhones using their Apple Watches. It would display an Unable to Communicate with Apple Watch error.

For the unaware, Apple introduced this feature with iOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4. It’s a handy workaround in these trying times when wearing a mask outside has become the norm. Instead of entering the iPhone password every time a user is in public, the iPhone checks if an unlocked Apple Watch linked to the same Apple ID is present on the user’s wrist. If all conditions are met, the iPhone unlocks without manually entering the password.

Apple’s acknowledgment

Apple has acknowledged the presence of the bug and posted a new support document. The document states:

Apple has identified an issue where Unlock with Apple Watch may not work with iPhone 13 devices. You might see “Unable to Communicate with Apple Watch” if you try to unlock your iPhone while wearing a face mask, or you might not be able to set up Unlock with Apple Watch.

This issue will be fixed in an upcoming software update. Until the update is available, you can turn off Unlock with Apple Watch and use your passcode to unlock your iPhone 13.

To turn off Unlock with Apple Watch, go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode.

Apple advises users to temporarily disable the feature from the Settings app until it’s fixed in a future software update. MacRumors reveals that the fix is already live in iOS 15.1 beta 2. We expect Apple to release the update on the stable channel in the coming weeks.

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