• The latest iOS 13.5 beta includes Apple’s brand new coronavirus exposure notification API.
  • The  API is designed to support contact tracing, a Bluetooth solution that will alert iPhone users when they’ve come into contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.
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Apple earlier today released a new developer beta of iOS 13.5, an update that introduces the company’s exposure notification API that will enable contact tracing for the coronavirus. As you’ve likely heard by now, both Google and Apple worked on a Bluetooth-powered solution designed to let people discover if and when they’ve come into close contact with someone who previously tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Given the urgent need,” Apple said in a press release earlier this month, “the plan is to implement this solution in two steps while maintaining strong protections around user privacy.”

While exposure notifications will ultimately be an opt-in process, it’s currently opt-out in the recent beta. Still, it can easily be toggled off by going to Settings > Privacy > Health > COVID-19 Exposure Notifications and then tapping the corresponding button into the off position. Remember, though, actual apps utilizing the feature aren’t slated to arrive until May.

Incidentally, CNBC has a fascinating write-up detailing how Apple and Google started working together on their respective contact tracing applications. Interestingly, engineers at both companies were working on similar solutions independently before joining forces.

It wasn’t a foregone conclusion that the two companies, which have a long history of bitter competition in smartphones, would cooperate.

But in this case, they knew they had to come together. A system for exposure notification needed to be interoperable, otherwise there would be huge gaps in coverage.

The two companies couldn’t formally announce plans to work together until they got a green-light from their CEOs. So Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai hashed it out on a virtual meeting several days ahead of the official announcement on April 10th.

Notably, the new API isn’t the only coronavirus-related update in the iOS 13.5 beta. Developers have found that Face ID now has a new feature such that if it detects a user is wearing a mask, it will automatically ask them to enter in their passcode.

A list of devices capable of running iOS 13.5 can be seen below:

  • iPhone SE 2nd generation
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone SE
  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro 3rd generation
  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2nd generation
  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro 1st generation
  • 10.5-inch iPad Pro
  • 9.7-inch iPad Pro
  • iPad Air 3rd generation
  • iPad Air 2
  • iPad 6th generation
  • iPad 5th generation
  • iPad mini 5th generation
  • iPad mini 4
  • iPod touch 7th generation
A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.