The next major iOS update looks like it will advance Apple and Google’s Exposure Notification system to its next phase.
As spotted by 9to5Mac, iOS 13.7 began rolling out to developers with important tweaks to the Exposure Notification system. For those who closely followed Apple and Google’s announcements about the system during development, you may remember the companies said there would be two phases of deployment.
The first phase, which we are currently in, would see the Exposure Notification capability deployed to the majority of Android phones and iPhones (with some exceptions you can read about here). During this phase, users would need to install an app provided by their local public health authority to make use of the system. For example, in Canada, Ontario rolled out support for the app in partnership with Canada’s Public Health Agency.
Phase two, on the other hand, would allow Exposure Notifications to operate without an app if users opt-in to the system. That would mean users could still get notifications about potential exposure to COVID-19, a helpful addition for those living in an area without an app or those afraid to install the public health app. However, to verify a positive case, users will still need to install their public health app.
For Canada, iOS 13.7 will be a welcome update when it rolls out to the public. At the moment, Ontario is the only province that supports the federal government’s COVID Alert app based on Apple and Google’s Exposure Notification system. Alberta plans to transition to that app, while Quebec doesn’t intend to deploy it.
For those living outside Ontario and using an iPhone, the update will enable you to start using Exposure Notifications without needing the COVID Alert app. While no one will be able to report positive cases without the app, logging potential exposures could be helpful for when COVID Alert does finally arrive in your area.
Further, Apple’s move towards phase two of the Exposure Notification system hopefully means Google is also preparing to start phase two, and Android users will soon be able to use Exposure Notifications without an app as well.