Apple has designed and manufactured custom face masks for employees, as first reported by Bloomberg. The company has created what it calls the ‘Apple Face Mask’, which uses three layers of material to filter particles. It also has designed an ‘Apple ClearMask’, which is the first completely clear surgical mask to be approved by the FDA.
The clear mask will allow someone who is deaf or hard of hearing to be able to lipread what an employee is saying. The new masks will start being sent out to Apple’s corporate and retail employees over the next few weeks, replacing the standard N95 masks like those being worn by the employees pictured above.
In April, at the start of the global pandemic, Apple designed face shields that could be shipped to places of need in volume.
These new masks appear to be even more sophisticated. The Bloomberg report says that the masks were designed and manufactured entirely by Apple’s internal teams, and the company carefully sourced materials so as to not take away supplies of materials needed for PPE (personal protective equipment) in hospitals.
The Apple Face Mask is made up of three layers to filter incoming and outgoing particles. It can be washed and reused as many as five times, the company told employees. In typical Apple style, the mask looks unique with large coverings on the top and bottom for the wearer’s nose and chin. It also has adjustable strings to fit around a person’s ears.
It’s unclear if they will be manufacturing its new masks for external use outside of Apple. The company has already donated tens of millions of N95 masks to healthcare institutions around the world. Apple Store policy requires employees and customers to wear face masks, with Apple Stores distributing masks to customers upon entering the store.
To help support the new mask-wearing normal, Apple rolled out changes to iOS which changed the behavior of the Face ID unlock process to better accommodate the regular use of face coverings. Since iOS 13.5, the iPhone is much faster at presenting the PIN entry screen if it is unable to recognize the user because they are wearing a mask.
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