Apple rolled out iOS 13.7 today. Update your device, and you’ll now be able to see if your state supports the COVID-19 Exposure Notifications Express system. More importantly, you’ll be able to opt-in to receiving these alerts without having to find and set up a standalone app. (Nobody likes app sprawl.)
For the majority of you whose states haven’t yet opted into the program, you’ll at least be able to receive a notification if, or when, yours chooses to jump on board. (And, no, these settings don’t activate the hidden COVID-19 sensor in your phone, because that doesn’t exist.)
To get started, pull up the Settings appand tap on General > Software Update.Download and install the update. Once your phone reboots, you’ll want to revisit the Settings app and scroll down a bit until you see the new “Exposure Notifications” section (under “Emergency SOS.”)
Tap on that, and then tap on the big blue “Turn on Exposure Notifications” link. (By default, “Availability Alerts” should be enabled, which you can turn off if you really don’t want to know that exposure notification tracking is finally active in your state.)
From there, you’ll be presented with the main “COVID-19 Exposure Notifications” screen. I’d normally just click on the “Continue” button to get going with the setting, but if you’re at all concerned about the privacy of this system, I recommend tapping on the “How Exposure Notifications Work” link and reading up. It provides a very simple walkthrough of the system that should help allay any fears you have about the government tracking your whereabouts or other tinfoil-hat theories.
Tap “Continue,” and you’ll be asked to pick your country and state. Odds are good you’ll see this screen:
If you’re in one of the lucky states that’s already using the Exposure Notifications API, you’ll probably see a screen that looks like this:
I checked a bunch of states, and none are set up to currently use the Exposure Notifications Express system—including four that should be among the first out of the gate: Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia and Nevada. All the more reason to keep that “Availability Alert” enabled, because a contact-tracing system becomes a lot more effective when everyone uses it. And for that to happen, everyone has to opt-in to using it, hence the importance of these availability notifications.