I only recently made the switch to Face ID. Before I got my iPhone 12 Pro, I’d stuck with iPhone devices that still had TouchID. When I started using Face ID, I absolutely loved it. Until, that is, I found it not working reliably when I was lying down. It took me a while, but I ultimately cracked the problem of using Face ID while lying down.

The Ideal Conditions for Scanning Your Face

According to Apple, Face ID requires the TrueDepth camera be able to see the majority of your face. It’s designed to work indoors, outdoors, or even in total darkness. To work its magic, “the TrueDepth camera captures accurate face data by projecting and analyzing over 30,000 invisible dots to create a depth map of your face and also captures an infrared image of your face.”

To understand the problem with Face ID while lying down, think about the one strict requirement for the tech to work. The camera has to be far enough from your face to “see” it all. That means holding your iPhone or iPad at arm’s length or a bit less from your face. The ideal distance is about 10 to 20 inches (25 to 50 centimeters.)

How Many of Us Try Using Face ID While Lying Down

Now, think about how you typically use your phone when you’re lying down. If you think having your face smushed into the pillow is the problem, as I did, it’s not. The problem is we usually hold our iPhone too close to our face to use Face ID while lying down.

Using Face ID While Lying Down

To understand why you might not be able to use Face ID while lying down, you have to think about how you use it in other postures – rougly arm’s length from your face

Before I hit the Google, I tried all kinds of acrobatics to get help me use Face ID while lying down. I’d try to make sure my iPhone was perfectly aligned with my face. I’d life my head up from the pillow, thinking too much of my facial details were hidden. None of that worked, but I never thought about the distance.

Yes, I was holding it wrong.

When you’re in bed, you almost naturally hold your iPhone closer to your face. This is especially true if you wear eyeglasses, as I do. If you’ve ever tried to take a selfie of yourself while you were lying down, you might have seen the solution without realizing it.

The Obvious, Yet Not So Obvious, Solution

To use Face ID while lying down, you just have to hold your device further from your face. It’s a bit uncomfortable, but you do get used to it. Just hold your device about at arm’s length, as if you were making a FaceTime call. Even a foot from your face will be good enough.

Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that you can reliably use Face ID when lying down, just like in all other conditions.

In case you wondered, you can also use Face ID when you’re wearing a mask. You can even add a second person to Face ID.

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