Residents donning surgical face masks while venturing outside their homes or meeting strangers have found themselves in an unfamiliar conundrum. With their faces half-covered, some are unable to unlock their phones or use mobile payments with their faces.
“Been wearing a mask everyday recently and I just want to throw away this phone with face unlock,” said one frustrated user who posted on Weibo using an iPhone.
“Under the current circumstances, for the past two days, I’ve been basically wearing a mask all the time except while sleeping. In times like this, the iPhone’s Face ID doesn’t really work that well,” another user wrote, adding that she hopes Apple will bring back fingerprint unlock.
It’s more than just handset troubles, though. In China, facial recognition is being deployed from train stations and airports to stores and hotels. Some people say they now have trouble entering gated communities protected by facial recognition systems.
“Just came in through the community gate. I was standing under the facial recognition [camera] but it didn’t recognize me,” one user said. “Around two minutes later, I realized I was wearing a mask.”
For some people, though, facial recognition has become such an integral part of life that older technology now seems annoyingly inconvenient.
“I’ve gotten used to WeChat Pay’s facial recognition,” said one user. “I’ve been wearing masks these days. Not really used to changing to passcode payment.”
“Fingerprint payment is still better,” another wrote. “This facial recognition, I don’t even dare pull down my mask. And passcode comes so slow. All I want is to pay and quickly run.”