• Apple released a new iOS 13.5 beta
  • This beta includes the first version of is COVID-19 exposure notification feature
  • iPhone users can opt-out of receiving exposure notifications

Apple recently released an iOS 13.5 public beta which includes the first version of its COVID-19 exposure notification API for contact tracing.

The exposure notification API is not aimed for release to all developers, 9To5Mac reported. Rather, it is meant to be available for public health authorities, so they can create apps meant to alert people if ever they come in contact with someone who is infected with COVID-19.

As reported earlier, the contact tracing method, which Apple and Google worked on together, is a decentralized process that helps users know if they have been in contact with a person who was COVID-19 positive.

Here's how the contact-tracing method works: smartphones belonging to two people in close proximity to one another will exchange key codes. If person A gets infected, he needs to indicate his status on the app, and share his key code to the cloud, along with key codes belonging to whoever he might have come in contact with.

Person B's smartphone will constantly download key codes from time to time. If he gets a key that matches with Person A (now COVID-19 positive), he will be informed about it. All of these happens in the smartphones and the cloud. No information is sent to a server.

How to opt-out

The exposure notification feature is privacy focused, MacRumors noted. This means users won't have to worry about sensitive information such as names and addresses being shared to others, including public health authorities.

That said, those who still want to opt-out of receiving such notifications can disable it by doing the following:

  • First, users should launch the Settings app.
  • Second, users should scroll down and tap on Privacy, then tap on Health.
  • Third, users should look for and tap on COVID-19 Exposure Notifications, then tap the toggle to turn it off.

The exposure notification feature is enabled by default, which means users will be notified if they have come in close contact with anyone who has COVID-19. Those who turn it off will miss out on the important feature. Those who turn it off but want it back on can simply redo the aforementioned steps, but toggle the COVID-19 Exposure Notifications switch on.

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a person holding a smartphone Daria Shevtsova/