Apple just launched its all-important iOS 13.5 update for the iPhone, and its features are so relevant to our times that we strongly suggest downloading it right away.
The official iOS 13.5 release notes indicate that this update will remove the delay before showing the passcode field on iPhones with Face ID when it detects you’re wearing a face mask, allowing you to type your PIN instantly. The notes also detail the contact tracing apps framework or ‘Exposure Notification API’.
Face mask recognition is a relief for something that’s been bugging us for the last two months. While Face ID, on everything from the iPhone X to the iPhone 11 Pro, is widely advanced and secure, it doesn’t deal with face masks well at all. That’s been frustrating when you own one of the priciest of the best phones in the world.
Now, the ability to enter the traditional passcode from the start helps avoid having to awkwardly fail out of Face ID twice just to get to the passcode screen when unlocking your phone or buying something with Apple Pay.
iOS 13.5 will make life with a face mask a little easier.
iOS 13.5 launches contact tracing apps
Officially called ‘Exposure Notifications’ in the iOS 13.5 update, Apple (along with Google doing the same with Android) has baked in an API for contact tracing apps.
This framework will allow governments and public health agencies to develop apps that alert you if you’ve come into contact with someone who later tests positive for Covid-19 and that person anonymously logs their positive result into a database.
No, the actual contact tracing apps aren’t here yet in iOS 13.5, but Apple and Google note that 22 countries across five continents have requested and received access to the API, while stressing that everything is being done to protect user privacy.
In addition to being contacted anonymously, the Exposure Notifications API uses Bluetooth Low Energy, not WiFi or other, more potentially identifiable means. The companies are working to make it impossible to create a digital paper trail, though privacy advocates still have concerns.
Apple and Google have also said that there are no plans to use this framework beyond the current pandemic.