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iOS 18 might finally let you lock iPhone apps with Face ID

Published Jun 10th, 2024 6:50AM EDT
iOS 17 iMessage's new expandable menu
Image: José Adorno for BGR

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I said back in December that I wanted Apple to copy WhatsApp’s Face ID security for iMessage. That’s just one of the default iPhone apps that require extra protection to improve the user’s privacy. Apps like Notes, Health, and Home could use a similar layer of security, especially considering how fast and convenient Face ID is.

It turns out that iOS 18 might bring that sort of improved privacy security to the iPhone. A report says Apple will let users lock various apps with Face ID. If accurate, the feature will also support Touch ID on older iPhones that can still get iOS 18.

Meta and other companies let you lock chat apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger with Face ID. That prompted me to ask for similar protections for iMessage. These chat apps can contain sensitive information.

If I were to lose my iPhone or have it stolen, I’d like to know that sensitive apps have another layer of protection beyond the Lock Screen. This is similar to the login protection for finance apps, which you can associate with Face ID unlock where available.

The Notes app is another key iPhone app to lock down with Face ID. Considering you can protect independent notes with Face ID or a password, you should be able to lock the entire app.

The ability to add an extra layer of protection to sensitive iPhone apps is even more useful on a shared device like the iPad.

Say you let kids use your iPad for entertainment, you won’t have to worry about them reading messages and notes or deleting any content.

How to instantly lock any iPhone app behind Face ID
A Face ID authentication scan on iPhone. Image source: José Adorno for BGR

According to MacRumors, Face ID authentication is coming to standalone iPhone apps. The blog mentions “Mail, Messages, Notes, Phone, Photos, Safari, Settings, and more” apps getting support for Face ID.

Multiple sources familiar with the matter have reportedly informed the site about the feature. That’s certainly a great privacy upgrade, and I can’t wait to see it in action.

I will point out one issue. Face ID is associated with the Lock Screen password on the iPhone. Getting back to the iPad example, if your children know the iPad’s password, they’ll be able to unlock the protected apps. If thieves steal your Lock Screen password, they’d also be able to access those apps.

I’m speculating here, but if Face ID scans fail, you’ll need an alternative to get into your apps. That’s usually the Lock Screen password.

A better option would be for Apple to let users pair Face ID with a different password for locking down apps. After all, reports say that iOS 18 is also going to debut a standalone password manager app. That’s another request I’ve had for Apple for years. It would be easy to store that app password in a safe place. That’s where I’m getting at.

On that note, the upcoming password manager app will likely work with Face ID authentication as well.

Finally, I’ll add that macOS 15 should copy these privacy security features. If I can lock down access to iMessage on iPhone with Face ID, I should be able to do the same on macOS with Touch ID.

We’ll get our answers soon enough. Apple will introduce all its software features for iPhone, iPad, and Mac on Monday. Whether iOS 18 will add Face ID support to Apple apps or not, there is a way to use Face ID to lock any iPhone app right now.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.