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How to use AirPods to authenticate iPhone without unlocking

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A new AirPods accessibility feature for iPhone has created a secure way to use advanced Siri commands without unlocking your iPhone. Here's how to use it.

Siri now remembers that it's you speaking when iPhone is locked. [Photo by Jess Bailey Designs.]

In iOS 17, Apple has introduced a Siri authentication feature for AirPods which tackles a long-standing issue faced particularly by those with mobility or visual impairments. AirPods now enables these users to control Siri and access various iPhone functions without the need to physically interact with their device.

The problem solved

The issue of unlocking the iPhone to authenticate commands was originally brought to light by a quadriplegic user, Colin Hughes. As he has pointed out, executing Siri commands used to require the iPhone to be unlocked each time, posing a challenge for users who found it difficult to continuously unlock their device.

This new feature allows an iPhone to recognize and authenticate Siri requests through AirPods when they are in range. The key is that once your AirPods are in while the iPhone is unlocked, the device remains authenticated even if the iPhone then locks. This lasts as long as the AirPods stay in range or until the audio output device is changed.

How to use the feature

To use advanced Siri commands via AirPods when your iPhone is locked:

  1. Unlock your iPhone, and check that iOS 17 is installed.

  2. Go to Settings --> Siri & Search. Ensure that Allow Siri When Locked is enabled.

  3. Place your AirPods in your ears, and ensure that iPhone reports that they're connected.

  4. Now lock your iPhone. You should be able to successfully execute Siri commands which require access to personal information, such as "What's on my calendar today", or "Read my new messages."

This Siri authentication method is a demonstration of Apple's commitment to accessibility, since allows users with mobility or visual impairments to interact with their devices more easily. However, its convenience and ease of use has also improved the Siri experience for everyone else.

For everyday users, this means a more streamlined experience with their iPhones. The ease of accessing Siri without unlocking the phone each time enhances efficiency and the overall user experience.