Apple releases iOS & iPadOS 13.5, watchOS 6.2.5, tvOS & HomePod 13.4.5 with COVID-19 exposure tracking, better support for face masks, improved Group FaceTime experience

Today Apple released updates across all of their mobile operating systems. There is a sprinkling of minor new features, but more importantly, they include bug, reliability, speed, and security fixes. I recommend everyone install these as soon as they are able.

New Features

  • On iPhone, Apple has added COVID-19 exposure tracking in partnership with Google. Once you install an app from a public health authority, this allows your phone to privately and anonymously track who you have come into close proximity with via Bluetooth, whether they are on iPhone or Android. If any of these people get a positive diagnosis for COVID-19 you will be alerted, per the parameters set by your health authority. This feature is entirely optional and requires you to choose to download an app from your public health authority. In the US we can expect each state to release their own app.
  • On iOS and iPadOS, Apple has added an option for group Facetime calls to switch from floating panels to a grid. Like Zoom or The Brady Bunch. To enable that go to the Settings app > FaceTime, then turn off “Speaking” under “Automatic Prominence”.
  • iOS and iPadOS devices with FaceID now ask for your passcode immediately when wearing a face mask.
  • iOS can now send Medical ID data to emergency dispatchers when calling 911.
  • watchOS has new Pride watch faces.

To update

  • iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch): Tap Settings > General > Software Update.
  • watchOS: First update your iPhone, then on your iPhone tap the Watch app > General > Software Update.
  • tvOS: Navigate to Settings > System > Software Update.
  • HomePod: HomePod will update itself automatically, but you can push it along manually. Go to the Home app, tap the house icon in the upper left corner, and choose “Software Update” in the “Speakers & TV” section.