NY Transit Seeks Apple's Help With iPhone Mask Problem

iPhone face mask

New York City’s public transportation system is asking Apple Inc.’s help for a better way for some iPhone owners to unlock their phones, the Associated Press reported.

In a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook over the weekend, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman Patrick Foye said riders have been spotted removing their masks to unlock their phones using face recognition technology. This, despite an Apple update that simplifies the unlock process for people wearing masks.

“We understand Apple is working to address the issue and know that Apple has a range of technologies at its disposal as a global leader among tech companies,” Foye wrote in the letter sent Sunday. “We urge Apple to accelerate the deployment of new technologies and solutions that further protect customers in the era of COVID-19.”

Before the update, iPhone users wearing a mask would have to wait a few seconds as face recognition software tried to identify them before they eventually could enter a password.

But in response to the pandemic, Apple’s iOS 13.5 in May allowed users to enter a password after a swipe up from the bottom of the locked screen.

In addition, the year-old Apple Pay Express Transit allows riders on some bus and subway lines to pay with their iPhone or Apple Watch without having to wake the device.

Foye offered to collaborate with Apple on messaging to make sure users know about the recent iPhone modification, AP reported.

In addition to an aggressive overnight cleaning program, the MTA requires all riders to wear masks and socially distance. The authority has said in recent weeks that more than 90 percent of passengers are wearing masks.

Last spring, Corsight AI, a New Jersey-based software developer, raised $5 million to develop a way to recognize people’s faces through masks, goggles or plastic coverings.

The money from Awz Ventures, a Canadian intelligence and security investor, will be used to boost the technology, which has become necessary as the coronavirus has people wearing masks and making them unidentifiable by traditional cameras or monitors.

In July, Best Buy, Starbucks, Kroger and Walmart Inc. mandated customers wear masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.



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