Apple today seeded the first beta of watchOS 7.4 to public beta testers. The release, which includes a new “Unlock with Apple Watch” feature, comes a few days after the beta was first released to developers for testing.
The watchOS 7.4 update can only be downloaded on an Apple Watch after the connected iPhone has been updated to the public beta version of iOS 14.5. After iOS 14.5 has been installed, the watchOS 7.4 software should show up as available, as long as the Apple Watch profile is installed.
Go to “General” -> “Software Update” to install the new software. The Watch should have at least 50% battery life, be connected to a charger, and be in the range of the iPhone.
watchOS 7.4 is compatible with Apple Watch Series 3, Apple Watch Series 4, or Apple Watch Series 5 paired with iPhone 6s or later running iOS 14 or later.
In combination with iOS 14.5, watchOS 7.4 debuts a new “Unlock with Apple Watch” feature that allows an iPhone with Face ID to use an unlocked and authenticated Apple Watch as a secondary authentication measure. This allows users that are wearing a mask, to unlock their iPhone without the need to enter a passcode.
An unlocked Apple Watch paired with an iPhone equipped with Face ID can unlock the device when a user is wearing a mask. However, the Apple Watch cannot be used to authenticate App Store or Apple Pay purchases, nor can it be used to unlock apps that require Face ID. In those instances, users will be required to remove their mask or enter a passcode.
When the Apple Watch unlocks the iPhone, the user will feel a haptic tap on their wrist and will see a notification on the Watch.
watchOS 7.4 should only be available to developers and public beta testers in a beta capacity for the next several weeks, with a public release sometime in the early spring.