Apple releases iOS 13.7 beta with support for COVID19 Exposure Notifications without downloading an app [U]

Update: As of right now, iOS 13.7 is only available to developers. We will update this post if that changes today. Initially, iOS 13.7 appeared to be rolling out to all users, but we’ve since confirmed that it is a beta release for now.

Apple is releasing iOS 13.7 to developers today with a key focus on expanding the COVID-19 Exposure Notification API. According to Apple, this update will allow users opt-in to COVID-19 Exposure Notifications without the need to download an app from your local public health authority.

Here’s what Apple says about iOS 13.7 for iPhone users:

iOS 13.7 lets you opt-in to the COVID-19 Exposure Notifications system without the need to download an app. System availability depends on support from your local public health authority. For more information see covid19.apple.com/contacttracing. This release also includes other bug fixes for your iPhone.

When Apple and Google announced their partnership on the COVID-19 Exposure Notification API, the companies detailed two phases of the technology. The first phase, which is what we ultimately saw released with iOS 13.5, required that users first download an app from their public health authority to opt-in to Exposure Notifications.

At the time, Google and Apple also teased “phase two” of the technology. This is what is being released as part of iOS 13.7, and it allows users to opt-in to COVID-19 Exposure Notifications without installing an app. In order to verify a positive case, however, you still will need an app from a public health authority to confirm a positive COVID-19 case.

Ideally, this change could expand the availability of the COVID-19 Exposure Notification API. Currently, just a few states in the US are taking advantage of the platform, as are several other countries around the world. Unfortunately, Apple says that the availability of COVID-19 Exposure Notifications will still depend on support from local public health authorities, even as the ability to opt-in is now built directly into iOS 13.7.

Apple has also released iPadOS 13.7 today, which includes bug fixes and performance improvements for iPad users.

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