21st May 2020 – Apple released iOS 13.5 today with two new features that are a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic: changes to Face ID to make it easier to unlock your phone if you’re wearing a face mask and support for the first phase of Apple and Google’s jointly-developed exposure notification system.
On previous versions of iOS, if you were wearing a face mask and tried to use Face ID to access your phone, you’d have to wait for a couple seconds while your iPhone attempted to identify your face before it would let you enter a passcode. In iOS 13.5, though, if you swipe up once from the bottom of the screen while you’re wearing a mask, you’ll see the option to enter your passcode right away.
iOS 13.5 also supports Apple and Google’s exposure notification API, meaning you’ll be able to use apps developed by public health agencies that send you a notification if you may have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. The system is inactive until you have an app installed that uses the API, however.
At some point in the future, Apple and Google will build this functionality directly into the operating systems of their phones so that you can be notified that you may have been exposed to COVID-19 even if you don’t have an exposure notification app installed on your phone. You can read more about Apple and Google’s exposure notification system here.
Today’s software update will also let you turn off the feature in Group FaceTime calls that automatically changes the size of the participant windows when people speak.