iOS 13.5 – The first COVID-19 friendly software update

Apple today is releasing the iOS 13.5 and iPadOS 13.5 GM to developers. The iOS 13.5 update includes features for unlocking your phone while wearing a face mask.

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Staying on top everyone’s needs, Apple’s iOS 13.5 update is about to make your face mask-wearing life a little easier. Many say that this a major iPhone software update given the long-term impact of coronavirus. The GM (golden master) version of iOS 13.5 is now out for developers, and that’s always the last update Apple issues before its software updates go public.

According to the release notes via 9to5Mac, iOS 13.5 features are headlined by a simplified unlock process for Face ID-equipped iPhones if you’re wearing a face mask. That’s good news for those struggling with Face ID on iOS 13. You’ll be able to unlock your phone right away with a passcode instead of waiting for the Face ID menu to fail twice, which is how it currently works.

Apple’s face-mask-detection feature will work on any iPhone without a home button – so from iPhone 11 to iPhone X, but not the iPhone SE 2020 – when you swipe up from the bottom of the lock screen, or need to authenticate with the App Store, Apple Books, Apple Pay or iTunes.

iOS 13.5 supports Covid-19 contact tracing apps

Contact tracing apps have been heralded as an essential step to reopening countries and avoiding the further spread of Covid-19. Apple and Google are leading contact tracing efforts, developing functionality into their smartphone operating systems.

iOS 13.5 includes an ‘Exposure Notification API’ to support Covid-19 contact tracing apps from public health authorities. No, those critical apps aren’t here yet – that’s up to individual governments to create or enable – but the framework is ready.

The Exposure Notification API uses Bluetooth Low Energy to determine if, in the last 14 days, you’ve passed someone and they later test positive for Covid-19 then log it into a centralized database. All of this happens anonymously.

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Contact tracing apps will be tech’s most important contribution to helping life get back to normal, and iOS 13.5 is the first step toward making that happen.

For the immediate future, however, the ability to unlock your phone faster is the main reason to download the iOS 13.5 update as soon as it launches. In the release notes, Apple says the update also makes bug fixes for streaming video, the Mail app on iPad, and the share sheet.

Here are the full release notes for the update

iOS 13.5 speeds up access to the passcode field on devices with Face ID when you are wearing a face mask. It also introduces the Exposure Notification API to support COVID-19 contact tracing apps from public health authorities. Additionally, this update introduces an option to control automatic prominence of video tiles on Group FaceTime calls; it also includes bug fixes and other improvements.

Read more: How To Improve The Experience Of Remote Working

Face ID and Passcode

  • Simplified unlock process for devices with Face ID when you are wearing a face mask
  • Passcode field automatically presented after swiping up from the bottom of the Lock screen; that is, when you are wearing a face mask
  • Also works when authenticating with the App Store, Apple Books, Apple Pay, iTunes; and other apps that support signing in with Face ID

Exposure Notification

  • Exposure Notification API to support COVID-19 contact tracing apps from public health authorities


  • Option to control automatic prominence on Group FaceTime calls so video tiles do not change size when a participant speaks

Read more: Tracking the spread of coronavirus: Apple & Google explain new technology

Emergency Services

  • Option to automatically share health and other essential information from your Medical ID; with emergency services when you place an emergency call (US only)

This update also includes bug fixes and other improvements.

  • Fixes an issue where users may see a black screen when trying to play streaming video from some websites
  • Addresses an issue in the share sheet where suggestions and actions may not load



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