iOS 13.5 was released a day ago and lots of people are referring to this update as the COVID-19 update since there are features in it that make the phone easier to use if you’re wearing a mask. The option to enter the passcode pops up much more quickly. It also brings the COVID-19 exposure logging API to the device. The feature is opt-in which means you don’t need to send information from your device (or receive it) if you don’t want to (image via United Nations COVID-19 Response).
COVID-19 Exposure Logging and Notifications
COVID-19 Exposure Logging was added to iOS 13.5. Make sure that you’re running this version or a later version of iOS. To disable the logging and the notifications, follow the steps below.
- Open the Settings app.
- Go to Privacy>Health.
- At the top, you will see ‘COVID-19 Exposure Logging‘. Tap it.
- On the next screen, turn the feature On or Off. You should turn Bluetooth On if you want to enable the feature.
The COVID-19 Exposure Logging feature will appear on all devices that have upgraded to iOS 13.5 but it may not be available in all countries. If you go to enable the feature, and you see the ‘Not available in your region’ message, there isn’t anything you can do. The feature may become available in your region later but there are no promises on that.
What is Exposure Logging?
Exposure logging keeps track of people who have come in contact with other people. It collects this information quietly via Bluetooth and the data is not personally identifiable. Your device is assigned a random ID that is not associated with your Apple ID, your phone number, or any other personal information that you have on your device.
The information will be exchanged between other devices; they’re basically keeping a log of who was near whom. When a person records that they were infected with COVID-19, the people they have come in contact with are alerted to the fact. They do not receive any information about the person who was infected. Apple protects user’s privacy no matter what.
Once you know that you might have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you can choose to self-isolate and wait for symptoms to appear, or you can choose to get tested. If you’re not sure what to do, you can use Apple’s web tool to decide if you should get tested or not.