Apple adds built-in COVID-19 exposure notifications to iOS 13.7

Apple has announced that it will release iOS 13.7 to the public today, including a major expansion of the COVID-19 exposure notification platform. Apple and Google have unveiled a new exposure notification express system that allows public health officials to support COVID-19 contact tracing without having to develop and maintain their own applications.

Update: iOS 13.7 now available. You can update through the Settings app on your iPhone. Apple has also released iPadOS 13.7 with bug fixes.


When Apple and Google announced their work together on the COVID-19 exposure notification API at the start of the epidemic, the companies detailed two phases of the technology. The first phase, which came with iOS 13.5, required that users first opt-in to exposure information from their public health authority.

At the time, Apple and Google also hinted at working on phase two, which would reduce dependence on public health officials and implement most of the COVID-19 exposure notification technology directly into iOS and Android. This is what Google and Apple are announcing today, but with slight changes compared to what was initially expected.

iOS 13.7 + Express Exposure Notifications

The basis of the new Exposure Notification Express system is included in iOS 13.7, which Apple is releasing today to all iPhone owners. Public health officials still have to opt-in to the system.

For public health officials, the process of adopting the exposure notification express is much more streamlined than the adoption of the exposure notification API. Public health officials simply fill a configuration file that includes their name, logo, criteria to trigger exposure notifications, and information and protocols to be displayed to users after exposure.

Apple and Google are getting the responsibility of COVID-19 exposure notification express system. The companies state that they will use the information provided by public health authorities to offer a fully operational exposure notification system from the Public Health Authority that is directly integrated into iOS 13.7.

Public health officials still have complete control over the system, however, despite not needing to develop their own application. This includes controlling how information is triggered, what are the next steps for advice and guidance for exposed individuals.

iOS 13.7 change

For users, you can now enable COVID-19 exposure notifications directly in the Settings app on their iPhone. The process is as simple as a few taps, including agreeing to the terms of a public health agency. Users may also be able to receive a push notification when their local public health authority adopts Exposure Notification Express.

Once you enable the exposure notification in the Settings app, your iPhone will start using Bluetooth to log potential exposures, so that you can get potential COVID-19 based on guidelines set by your local public health authority Be informed about exposure.

Apple and Google expect this expansion of the Exposure Notification Express system to dramatically increase adoption by both users and public health officials. The first public health authority in the United States to adopt the exposure notification express system will be Maryland, Nevada, Virginia, and Washington, DC

For states that already have a standalone application using the COVID-19 exposure notification API, those apps still exist and can operate on their own. Right now, Apple and Google say that 25 states and territories, representing more than 55% of the population, are searching for exposure notification system solutions.

Apple and Google said the following things in a statement 9to5Mac:

“As the next step in our work with public health officials on exposure notifications, we are making it easier and faster for them to use the exposure notification system to create and maintain apps without them. The Exposure Notification Express provides another option for public health officials to complement their existing contact tracing operations with technology without compromising the project’s user privacy and security fundamentals. Existing apps that use the Exposure Notification API will be compatible with Exposure Notification Express, and we are committed to supporting public health authorities who have deployed or are creating custom apps. ”

Finally, Apple and Google emphasize that all the core privacy protection of the Exposure Notification API extends to Exposure Notification Express. Users must explicitly enable risk notifications, nothing is enabled by default. No location data is shared and the system does not share your identity with other users, Apple or Google. All matches are performed on the device and users have complete control over whether they want to report a positive test.

iOS 13.7 will roll out to all iPhone users later today.

9to5Mac’s Le

In some ways, today’s announcements from Apple and Google extend to what the two companies initially anticipated for phase two of the exposure notification system. The companies initially stated that Phase 2 would still involve some reliance on public health authority applications, but today’s announcement meant that Apple and Google would operate a fully functional system on behalf of public health authorities.

Judy Munro, MD, President and CEO, CDC Foundation:

“In this epidemic, jurisprudence needs bandwidth to help develop tools for contact tracing and exposure notification. Tools like Apple | Google Information Framework create privacy-focused apps for faster exchange of data Provides a backbone that can help save and save lives. ”

It is notable that Apple and Google have focused on reducing adoption barriers for users and public health officials. COVID-19 contact tracing and exposure tracking only work with high rates of adoption, and today’s announcements seem accurate with the aim of helping with adoption.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan praised the partnership between Apple and Google:

“The Exposure Notification Express will help save lives, enhance our contact tracing operations, and advance our statewide COVID-19 recovery. We appreciate our collaboration with Apple and Google, and look forward to launching this cutting-edge technology in Maryland. ”

What do you understand by today’s announcement of Apple and Google’s COVID-19 Exposure Notification Express? Tell us in the comments.

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