Apple is currently rolling out an important update for iPhone users in the form of iOS 13.5. In the update, an issue which has cropped up since the COVID-19 pandemic has spread across the globe, has now been addressed – facial recognition when wearing a face mask.
As it is recommended that South Africans wear a face mask at all times when out in public, this update comes at a necessary time for iPhone users.
Before you start worrying that Apple is now able to scan the details of your face even when you’re wearing a mask, the Face ID system available on newer iPhone devices cannot do that. Instead iOS 13.5 enables the Face ID software to recognise that its user is wearing a face mask and then prompts the entry of a passcode in order to unlock the device.
As with previous updates, this latest one should be available in your settings on your device, and once updated will activate the feature if you have Face ID set up on the device.
Along with the face mask workaround, iOS 13.5 also features the COVID-19 notification exposure API that Apple designed alongside Google. The availability of the app is only one step, with a country’s official health authority needed to build an app or integrate it into an existing app, in order to make use of the API.
In South Africa’s case, that would be the National Department of Health (NDoH), which has been leveraging WhatsApp to do much of its digital interactions and reporting with citizens.
At this stage it remains to be seen it the NDoH will use the API for COVID-19 tracing, but it is at least available for both iOS and Android devices in SA.