Apple iOS 13.5 Brings Faster iPhone Unlock if You Are Wearing a Mask & Gets New Contact Tracing API

The iOS 13.5 update prompt that is reaching all iPhone users now. (Image: News18.com)

The iOS 13.5 update prompt that is reaching all iPhone users now. (Image: News18.com)

Apple has also brought its Exposure Notification API through the iOS 13.5 update, which may be used by smartphone contact tracing apps.

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iOS 13.5 update for iPhones is here for users across the world, bringing a much needed update that makes it easier for iPhone users to unlock their devices while wearing masks. The update takes into account the prevailing healthcare regulations across the world, which suggests individuals to wear masks at all times in public. Alongside the update to Face ID to accommodate masks on faces, Apple’s iOS 13.5 update also brings the Exposure Notification API, which Apple built in collaboration with Google to enable seamless integration of Covid-19 contact tracing apps by national or regional healthcare departments.

As seen in the iOS 13.5 release note that is rolling out right now, users of iPhones that employ Face ID instead of Touch ID, i.e. iPhone X, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, will automatically see the numeric passcode field presented to them as soon as they turn on the iPhone display and attempt to unlock the device, when wearing a mask. This small but crucial enhancement can significantly help ease the ordeal for users, who are now stuck at either needing to remove their masks in order to unlock their iPhones, or wait for repeated failed face recognition attempts to register, before the passcode field turns up automatically. The update can be significantly helpful to healthcare professionals, for whom repeatedly removing their face masks or waiting too long to be able to unlock their devices can be a major deterrent.

Furthermore, the iOS 13.5 update also brings to devices the Exposure Notification API, developed jointly with Google in order to enable cross-platform Covid-19 contact tracing. While the update is being rolled out worldwide and has come to India as well, what remains to be seen here is how this update reflects in Aarogya Setu, India’s official Covid-19 contact tracing smartphone application. While the API will be introduced in all iPhones, contact tracing app developers will be required to enable the use of the API by the respective apps, in order for them to come into effect. Apple and Google’s contact tracing API has paid heed to privacy debates around contact tracing, and it now remains to be seen as to how this update reflects upon all the existing contact tracing apps across the world.

Other areas that the iOS 13.5 update is improving include minor fixes to FaceTime group video calls where the current speaker's video tile will now be responsively highlighted, a black screen issue in some video streaming apps (names of apps unspecified) and a bug in the slide-out menu that appears when you try to share a file from your iPhone. The iOS 13.5 update had hit the 'golden master' (pre-release testing) stage only two days ago, and measures 420MB in size for users who keep their devices regularly updated. The update is now available to all iOS users in India.

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