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Apple Releases iOS 13.7, Bringing COVID-19 Exposure Notifications Express to the Public

For the first time that I can ever recall, Apple is releasing a point update to iOS just a week after the update’s first beta debuted. iOS 13.7 is rolling out now to iPhone users, bringing the COVID-19 Exposure Notifications system to users without the need to download a separate third-party app. This version of the system is being dubbed Exposure Notifications Express. Per an Apple-Google quote provided to The Verge:

As the next step in our work with public health authorities on Exposure Notifications, we are making it easier and faster for them to use the Exposure Notifications System without the need for them to build and maintain an app. Exposure Notifications Express provides another option for public health authorities to supplement their existing contact tracing operations with technology without compromising on the project’s core tenets of user privacy and security.

After installing the update, from Settings ⇾ Exposure Notifications users can either opt-in to the new system, which was developed in a partnership between Apple and Google, or sign up to be notified when the system becomes available in their region. Currently, even though a separate app download isn’t necessary anymore, Apple is still only activating its system in areas where public health authorities are explicitly on board and have the processes in place to utilize data gathered from iPhones and Android devices for the sake of contact tracing. This means availability still doesn’t extend to all iPhone users, but it will hopefully expand quicker than when a separate app download was required. In the US, Exposure Notifications Express will launch in Maryland, Nevada, Virginia, and Washington D.C. with more states expected to be supported throughout the remainder of the year.

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