Today brought a surprising update for iOS 13: iOS 13.7 adds Exposure Notifications Express, the next phase of Apple’s and Google’s collaboration to help local, regional and national authorities track COVID-19 exposure and isolate those infected. iOS 13.7 adds a few extra minor features, and it’s joined by iPadOS 13.7, which mostly includes bug fixes. Google will launch its own version of Exposure Notifications Express on Android later this month.
Back in April, Apple and Google announced a joint plan to develop a system that would use the Bluetooth hardware in iPhones and Android phones to help with contact tracking in the midst of the pandemic. “Exposure Notifications Express” is the monitor for the second phase of this launch – the first phase began with software updates in May that included an API to help public health authorities develop their own apps for this purpose. Now, with this update, these authorities can reap the benefits of high-tech exposure tracking without developing their own apps.
In Apple’s implementation for iOS, users in participating states are asked to choose to receive notifications if the contact tracking data indicates that they may have been delayed. The user is then informed of the next step to take, which is defined by the user’s local public health authority. The public health authorities define when and under what circumstances messages are sent, as well as what guidance is given to those who may have been exposed.
So far, Maryland, Nevada, Virginia and the District of Columbia are participating in the Exposure Notifications Express system, although more may come later. Virginia, North Dakota, Wyoming, Alabama, Arizona and Nevada had previously launched exposure warning solutions using the API. In addition, 20 countries have already launched exposure tracking apps. The new Express Exposure Notifications Express approach does not affect existing solutions, Apple and Google say.
For other changes to iOS 13.7, Apple’s release notes say that the update adds new Memoji stickers and allows sharing of iCloud Drive folders for the Files app, as well as new bug fixes. Because iPads are not included in the exposure alert system, the iPadOS 13.7 update focuses on bug fixes.
iOS 13.7 is likely to be either the latest or the latest to the latest software update for iPhones prior to the launch of iOS 14, which is expected to happen in the coming weeks.
Listing image of Apple