Apple today released the iOS 13.5 update for all compatible iPhones and iPads. The release does not bring any major new features, though it does tweak some existing ones to make them work better in a post-COVID 19 world. The main highlight of the update is that it introduces an official Exposure Notification API for contact tracing that health government bodies across the world can use for their contact tracing app to fight COVID-19.
Apple and Google have worked together on this API to make it cross-compatible between Android and iPhones. The contact tracing API will not be available to third-party developers and can only be used by health agencies authorized by a country. Apple has previously detailed the API and stressed that it won’t pose any kind of privacy risk. It will do this by using randomly generated API keys. The company has also built a number of security features into the API to improve its accuracy. iOS 13.5 only introduces the contact tracing API. It is now up to health bodies of governments across the globe to launch apps that take advantage of this API. This should hopefully start happening from the next week or so. You can read more about the Exposure Notification API from Apple and Google here.
Technology can help health officials rapidly tell someone they may have been exposed to COVID-19. Today the Exposure Notification API we created with @Google is available to help public health agencies make their COVID-19 apps effective while protecting user privacy.
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) May 20, 2020
Other changes in iOS 13.5 include how Face ID works when it detects one wearing a mask. Your iPhone will automatically jump to the passcode screen instead of Face ID trying to scan your face. Another change in iOS 13.5 is how Medical ID works as it will now automatically share your information during an emergency call provided you live in a supported area.
Alongside iOS 13.5, Apple has also released the final version of tvOS 13.4.5 and HomePod 13.4.5 update to the public. The final version of watchOS 6.2.5 was released to the public earlier this week.
You should see a prompt for updating your iPhone or iPad to the newest software version in a couple of hours from now. You can also check for the update manually by going to Settings > General > Software Update.