Apple has released iOS 13.7 with a new COVID-19 exposure notification system and unspecified bug fixes. The company also released iPadOS 13.7 with equally unspecified bug fixes. Neither iOS 13.7 nor iPadOS 13.7 has CVE security entries. One oddity: the release notes we’re currently seeing in Software Update aren’t for this version and don’t match what Apple has on the Web; pay them no attention. You can install the updates, 159.1 MB on an iPhone 11 and 353.3 MB on an iPad Air, from Settings > General > Software Update, in iTunes, or in the Finder on Macs running macOS 10.15 Catalina or later.
In iOS 13.5, Apple introduced the Exposure Notification API, which it developed in partnership with Google (see “Apple and Google Partner for Privacy-Preserving COVID-19 Contact Tracing and Notification,” 10 April 2020, and “Apple Tailors iOS 13.5 and iPadOS 13.5 to a COVID-19 World,” 20 May 2020). That API could be used by state and national public health agencies to alert you to potential COVID-19 exposures, but they first had to develop and ship an app that took advantage of the API. Governments have been slow to do that, but the second stage of the plan has always been for the companies to build the Exposure Notification API into iOS and Android. Apple and Google have now built a COVID-19 exposure notification system into iOS 13.7 and a future update to Android.
To access the feature, go to Settings > Exposure Notifications and tap Turn On Exposure Notifications. iOS then walks you through selecting your country and region to enable the notifications. If your region doesn’t yet support those exposure notifications, it automatically turns on the Availability Alerts setting, which promises to send a notification once the feature becomes available in your area. The currently supported areas in the United States include Maryland, Nevada, Virginia, and Washington, DC—if you’re in one of those places, please share what the experience is like. We don’t know what the story is in other countries; if you find out more about your country, let us know in the comments.
When the Exposure Notifications feature becomes available in our areas, we’ll be turning it on, and we encourage you to do so as well. Much like wearing a mask in public doesn’t ensure protection for you or from you, participating in the Exposure Notifications system won’t guarantee that you’ll learn about potential exposures or protect others should you fall ill, but it’s one more thing we can all do to help ourselves and others.