iPhone Update Includes COVID-19 Contact Tracing And Mask Detection
The latest release of iOS and iPadOS (13.5) is out, and contains the usual variety of bug fixes and modest improvements.
In addition to the usual fare though, it also makes an important change to the way FaceID works for users wearing a mask. Also, it contains an important new COVID-19 Contact Tracing feature.
Some months ago, Apple and Google announced a partnership that saw the two tech giants collaborating on a number of projects related to the pandemic. This new feature is an outgrowth of that partnership. It enables a contract tracing API that health official can use to build apps designed to help fight the spread of COVID-19.
As to the new feature itself, it provides you with an anonymous way to alert others that you've come in contact with over the last 14 days, should you contract the virus and test positive.
The changes to FaceID will immediately prompt you to enter your PIN if the software fails to recognize your face, as opposed to making you jump through that hoop multiple times before finally displaying the PIN prompt. It's a small change, but a welcome one, especially since wearing a face mask often causes the facial recognition function to fail.
The latest update is available right now. If you don't have it yet, just open up your Settings app, then go to General Software update and follow the prompts from there.
Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that we'll be rid of COVID-19 anytime soon, so we'll be seeing more enhancements like these in the weeks and months ahead. With any luck, one of the vaccines currently on the fast track will prove to be successful. In the meanwhile, it is reassuring to know that big tech companies are stepping up and filling the gaps left in what has been a lackluster Federal response to this point. Kudos to both Apple and Google!