Latest Apple iOS 13.5 & iPad OS Have COVID-19 Specific Features 

The API that has been developed by Apple and Google works with multiple contact tracing apps. 

Published21 May 2020, 09:51 AM IST
Tech News
3 min read

Apple and Google have been working on a common platform to device an API (Application Program Interface) that can help track COVID-19 infections with guidance from public health officials using the phone’s Bluetooth technology.

The latest iOS 13.5 and iPad OS 13.5 have been released for users that come bundled with some COVID-19 specific features such as faster Face ID unlock which also supports a way to unlock the phone with face masks on and a COVID-19 Exposure Notification API.

Here’s a quick look at how these features work.

Faster Face ID & Face Mask Unlock

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, wearing a mask has become an essential part of our daily lives. But iPhone users have been facing a lot of trouble unlocking iPhones which only offer support for the Face ID.

The latest iOS 13.5 addresses that issue as the new update now offers a simplified unlock solution where a passcode field is automatically generated after the users swipe up from the bottom of the Lock screen when they’re wearing a mask.

As per the release notes, the update speeds up the process of the AI detecting that the users are wearing a face mask that automatically makes the phone prompt the Passcode option. This way users can unlock the phones without having to remove the mask.

This feature also works when users are trying to authenticate with the App Store, iTunes, and other apps that support signing in with Face ID.

The new iOS and iPad OS update also bring an update for FaceTime that lets users control the automatic prominence setting on group calls. Now you will be able to control whether you want the tile of the user who is speaking to expand automatically or not.

The feature is enabled automatically but you can go to the phone's Settings and disable it by going to Settings>FaceTime>Automatic Prominence.

Exposure Notification API

The Exposure Notification API has been developed by Google and Apple to help support contact tracing apps from health authorities across the globe. This is perhaps the most important update that the new iOS 13.5 has added.

There won’t be any changes to the phone’s user interface unless you have installed the contact tracing application on your phone.

Users in the US have also got an emergency call update added that allows the device to automatically share health and other details of users with medical emergency services using the medical data of users with the government.

How does it work?

The device constantly sends out a signal using the Bluetooth of the phone that also includes a random Bluetooth identifier.

The Exposure Notification alert system has been developed to work with different contact tracing applications.
The Exposure Notification alert system has been developed to work with different contact tracing applications.
(Photo: 9to5Mac)

The Exposure Notification API downloads a list of information from these signals and alerts the user if any Bluetooth beacon has been identified from a user who has been infected with the virus.

Apple and Google have added an extra layer of security to ensure that the user’s privacy and identity are not compromised. For example, all metadata associated with Bluetooth is now encrypted which makes it more difficult to identify a person.

Apple & Google say that only a handful of US states and 22 countries have requested and received access to the Exposure Notification API.

How to Download Latest iOS 13.5 Update

The latest iOS 13.5 and iPad OS 13.5 are now available for download for all devices that offer support.

You can check the availability of the least iOS and iPad OS for your iPhone or iPad by going to the device’s Settings> General> Software Update.

Before downloading make sure that the device is loaded with enough battery power and the Wi-Fi is enabled.

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