For as long as I can remember I’ve had Unlock with iPhone enabled on my Apple Watch. This feature is great – simply wake your phone while looking at it and your watch will unlock. This is more convenient than entering the passcode on the watch.

In iOS 14, Apple released a new feature for iOS called Unlock with Apple Watch. This feature works the opposite way around – your watch can now unlock your iPhone when you’re wearing a face covering.

This comes with a weird caveat – when the Unlock with Apple Watch setting is enabled on your iPhone, the behaviour of the Unlock with iPhone setting on your watch is inexplicably altered. Instead of simply looking at your phone, you now need to swipe up and wait roughly 3 seconds for the invasive notification at the top of the screen to say Unlocked. If you lock your phone, interact with the notification, or swipe it away, your watch won’t unlock.

The notification when both Unlock with Apple Watch and Unlock with iPhone are enabled, courtesy of MacRumors

This new behaviour makes the feature slower and less reliable than entering the passcode on the watch. Personally, I found it so irritating that I just completely turned off Unlock with iPhone.

However, as mask mandates are slowing going away, the Unlock with Apple Watch iPhone setting is becoming less useful. If you no longer need your watch to unlock your phone, turning off Unlock with Apple Watch (under Settings -> Face ID & Passcode) on your iPhone allows you to restore the old Unlock with iPhone behaviour where you only need to glance at your phone to unlock your watch.

Unlock with Apple Watch can be found on your iPhone under Settings -> FaceID & Passcode
Unlock with iPhone can be found on your watch under Settings -> Passcode

At the time of writing, this works on iOS 16. I really hope future versions of iOS don’t make the Unlocking notification permanent.

Update: As of iOS 17, the behaviour has changed yet again. Now, even with Unlock with Apple Watch turned off, you’ll still get an Unlocked by this iPhone notification at the top of the screen when your watch is locked and you unlock your iPhone. However, thankfully, you can dismiss / swipe it away and the watch will still unlock.