Apple has pushed out the public release of iOS 13.5 with two Covid-19 focused updates. The first is what the company calls the Exposure Notification API that supports contact tracing apps developed by public health authorities worldwide.
The second is a change to Face ID-equipped devices that helps it faster detect if you’re wearing a face mask in order to take you to the passcode screen quicker. This is handy as before iPhones and iPads with Face ID would search for a face for a few seconds before hopping to the passcode fallback. It’s not an essential update, but it highlights Apple’s obsession with detail in software.
The Exposure Notification API was developed with Google and will only be activated if you decide to install a compatible Covid-19 tracing app from a health authority in your country. It means if you use the app to trace your movements in public spaces, the app and system will be able to send you a notification if someone alerts the authority they have tested positive for Covid-19 and you are logged as within their vicinity at a recent location. The idea then is you can be tested.
Apple and Google have worked fast to ensure the rollout of this API to as many phones worldwide as possible. It is said to be very secure and was developed to help authorities build apps that are most useful and informative to users.