Apple’s iOS 13.5 Update: A Faster Way To Unlock Your Phone While Wearing A Mask, Support For Contact Tracing Apps

As countries around the world start to implement a contract tracing system as a way to prevent further spread of COVID-19, it seems that tech companies are also doing their part by creating better-operating systems to support government efforts.

Apple released their new iOS 13.5 update today complete with significant features that includes a simpler way to unlock your phone when you’re using a face mask, and an introduction of the Exposure Notification API to support COVID-19 contact tracing apps released from public health authorities. Here’s a closer look at the two significant features.


The Apple iOS 13.5 update features a simpler way to unlock your phone using Face ID when you’re wearing a mask. (Image courtesy of WSJ)

iPhone users who have had trouble unlocking your phone when you’re wearing a face mask can now easily unlock your phone using Face ID! Apple’s new update simplifies the unlock process for devices with Face ID. Instead of an awkward unsuccessful attempt at Face ID, the passcode field will be automatically presented after swiping up from the bottom of the lock screen even when you’re wearing a face mask.

I tried this new feature out when using a face mask and compared to the immediate access I would get when using Face ID barefaced, I am now automatically prompted to swipe up to enter my passcode instead. Though it is not the same as instant access, it does help shorten the time I would take to struggle with unlocking my phone.

This feature will also work when you are prompted to authenticate with the App Store, Apple Books, Apple Pay, iTunes, and other apps that support signing in with Face ID.


This is how you can opt to use the Exposure Notifications technology for your device. (Image courtesy of MacRumours)

This framework was developed in collaboration with Google (for Android phones) to allow governments and public health agencies to better develop apps that can alert you if you’ve come into contact with someone who later tests positive for COVID-19 when their positive result is recorded into a database. 

The Exposure Notification API is not an app but a technology that the two companies have designed for health authorities to build upon and better define what constitutes potential exposure in terms of exposed time and distance, as well as tweak the transmission risk and other factors according to their own standards.

The new feature also ensures that your personal data remains confidential as the technology does not allow the collection of data or use of geolocation information from the device. It will instead grant the various contact tracing apps access via Bluetooth Low Energy instead of potentially identifiable means such as a WiFi connection.

This new tech for your iPhone essentially means that whichever contact tracing app that you currently have on your phone now will work better than before in assisting the government’s efforts to contact trace to prevent further community spreads once Circuit Breaker measures ease.


Apple iPhone users can now find the iOS 13.5 update available under Software Update on your respective devices. For more information on the other features with the new iOS 13.5 update, click here.