Face ID is great for locking and unlocking your iPhone, but it’s even better for authenticating apps that contain sensitive data. While many apps now support Face ID log in, there are still plenty that don’t—but there’s a hack that can lock any app behind Face ID, thanks to an interesting quirk of iOS.
Set up an automation to lock apps with Face ID
To set up the automation, open the Clock app on your iPhone and select the Timer tab. Tap When Timer Ends and select Stop Playing. This feature reverses the timer: Rather than play an alert when the timer runs out, Stop Playing cuts off any sound playing on your iPhone, making for a good sleep timer. But here’s the kicker: Once a timer with Stop Playing runs out, your iPhone locks itself. We can use that function to lock certain apps behind Face ID. (Do not change this to a ringtone; if you do, the Face ID hack will stop working.)
Now, open Shortcuts and select the Automations tab. Tap the + icon in the top-right corner and select Create Personal Automation. Scroll down and select App and on the next page, choose the app you want to lock. Ensure that the trigger is set to Is Opened, which is selected by default, and tap Next. On the following page, select Add Action, and use the search bar to find Start Timer.
Configure the action to Start Timer for 1 second, and tap Next. Disable Ask Before Running and tap Done. That’s it! If someone else opens the app you’ve chosen, your iPhone will automatically lock itself within one second. But if you are using the phone, Face ID will immediately unlock the device and let you use the app. This feature is particularly useful if you want to keep sensitive apps away from prying eyes: In case someone snatches your phone, you can be sure it’ll be locked the moment they try to open certain apps.
To be on the safe side, you should create a similar automation for every app that has private information about you, including financial, dating, messaging, backup, and email apps at the very least. You can even use this hack as a defense against pranks by locking Settings and Shortcuts.
The only real limitation here is that it prevents you from using the timer function on your iPhone. You can circumvent this by using the alarm feature instead. It’s easy enough to ask Siri to ring an alarm at a certain time, which is an effective replacement.