iOS and iPadOS 13.5 now available with COVID-19 contact API, FaceTime and Face ID tweaks

Having released iOS and iPadOS 13.4 on March 24 with big new features like trackpad and mouse support for iPads and iCloud folder sharing, Apple is moving on to its next minor release.

Apple released iOS 13.4.1 without a beta test, and then started realeasing beta versions of 13.4.5 that primarily included only bug fixes. On April 29, without ever releasing 13.4.5, Apple released what it calls “beta 3” of iOS 13.5. So, Apple just renamed the usual 13.4.5 release with an upgraded version number as it included more significant features. 

Updated 05/20/20: Apple has released the final version of iOS 13.5 to the general public. It includes the first version of the Apple/Google contact tracing API. The release will probably go out to the public this week.

What’s new in iOS 13.5

What will you find in iOS and iPadOS 13.5? We expect this release to fine-tune a few minor details and fix a few bugs, while also starting to address COVID-19 specific issues. It might also include support for future hardware like the rumored Apple Tags tracking devices or over-the-ear headphones.

Face ID for those wearing masks

It would make Face ID a lot less secure for it to work on people wearing masks. But now that so many millions of people are wearing masks every day, Apple has made the fail state a little less painful.

After swiping up to unlock your iPhone, you used to have to wait a second for Face ID to fail before it would display the keypad to enter your passcode. Now, it displays the keypad right away so you can start entering your passcode immediately without waiting a second for Face ID to fail (due to your mask). It’s a very small change, but will be appreciated by those wearing masks all day.

Contact tracing API

This iOS release will include the Apple/Google contact tracing API for developers. That won’t mean anything to regular users until state health agencies release apps that use it, but the developers of those apps can now publish them.

It’s important to note that the Google/Apple exposure notification API protects your privacy in many ways. Data is never uploaded from your device to a central server, your identity is never shared (only a random, and changing, string of letters and numbers), and your location is never recorded or shared. Still, there’s a new privacy setting to prevent logging of COVID-19 tracing data. To change it, go to Settings > Privacy > Health and look for COVID-19 Exposure Logging at the top of the screen.