New iOS 13.7 Update Features COVID-19 Exposure Notifications (without a Separate App)

Corona Virus iPhone Credit: Brian McGowan / Shutterstock
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Apple is not only working on the upcoming release of iOS 14, but it also is continuing to improve its existing iOS 13 release.

Earlier this week, the sixth beta version of iOS 14 was rolled out to developers. Today, the Cupertino company gave developers another reason to rejoice by releasing iOS 13.7 to those who participate in the company’s developer program.

iOS 13.7 is a minor update that includes a few bug fixes. The primary focus of the update is the company’s COVID-19 exposure notification API.

The latest update allows users to take advantage of the embedded COVID-19 contact tracing without downloading a third-party app from a local public health authority.

iOS 13.7 lets you opt-in to the COVID-19 Exposure Notifications system without the need to download an app. System availability depends on support from your local public health authority. For more information, see covid19.apple.com/contacttracing. This release also includes other bug fixes for your iPhone.

Apple Release Notes

Shortly after coronavirus hit, Apple and Google announced their plans to co-develop a COVID-19 exposure notification system to help authorities identify people who may have been exposed to coronavirus.

This first phase of the program rolled out earlier this year when Apple released iOS 13.5. In this early phase, Apple and Google developed an exposure notification API that required a third-party app from a local public health department.

Apple and Google also discussed a second phase, which separated the contact tracing from an external app, but didn’t provide a timeframe or details on how or when this second stage would be implemented.

With little fanfare, Apple took this next step with iOS 13.7. This beta version handles the contact tracing without a dedicated app and can send that data to the appropriate public health authority when needed. This method makes contact tracing significantly easier for public health authorities who won’t have to waste critical time or spend valuable money on developing an app.

Though the Exposure Notification API in iOS 13.7 can manage contact tracing, users still need to download the app to confirm a positive COVID-19 case.

Apple likely made this change to encourage more public health departments to use its service. Only a handful of states in the United States and a few countries worldwide are using Google and Apple’s mobile technology.

Most departments are still using an old fashioned contact tracing method that relies on in-person interviews and phone calls to locate those individuals who came in contact with an infected person.

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