New York City’s MTA Urges Apple to Further Protect Riders During Pandemic

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In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, New York City’s transit agency MTA has encouraged Apple to accelerate the deployment of technology-based solutions to further protect users amid the global health crisis.


MTA Chairman Patrick Foye said riders have been seen removing their masks to unlock their iPhones using Face ID, despite a recent software update by Apple that makes it easier for masked users to enter their passcode instead.

“We understand Apple is working to address the issue and know that Apple has a range of technologies at its disposal as a global leader among tech companies,” Foye wrote in the letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook. “We urge Apple to accelerate the deployment of new technologies and solutions that further protect customers in the era of COVID-19.”

Foye said that the MTA would be willing to collaborate with Apple to promote a recent change in iOS 13.5 that allows a masked user to swipe up on the screen to immediately bring up the passcode interface when unlocking their iPhone. This could discourage people from taking off their mask briefly to unlock with Face ID, which does not work with masks.

The report notes that the MTA lost more than 90 percent of its subway ridership during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown in the New York area. Ridership is said to have slowly increased again, but still lags far behind pre-pandemic levels.

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