The next iOS update for the iPhone is set to include new software being developed with Google that uses Bluetooth signals to help identify if you've been in close contact with someone who's tested positive for COVID-19. Also, there's reportedly a fix for Face ID not working when you're wearing a face mask.
The next iOS update, version 13.5, is going to have a new feature that recognizes when an iPhone user is wearing a face mask, and will automatically pop up the passcode screen to unlock the phone. As CNN Business reports, multiple developers who have received the beta release of 13.5 have noted the new fix, which should come as a welcome relief for iPhone users who have been frustrated by having to fumble and/or remove their masks to unlock their phones.
As pointed out by @Sonikku_a2, if you’re wearing a mask, iOS 13.5 goes straight to the passcode screen if you try to unlock with Face ID (keypad not shown because iOS hides it in screen recordings) pic.twitter.com/bQCzu5u20p— Guilherme Rambo (@_inside) April 29, 2020
So, no, your phone still won't ever recognize you from your smizing.
Additionally, the update will include the first rollout of software related to a previously announced contact-tracing program that Apple and Google are co-developing. The program involves the use of "identifier beacons" that emit from one's phone, allowing each person's device to become an anonymous tool in helping identify when someone has come in contact with a COVID-positive person.
The technology has some privacy advocates nervous, as CNN reports, because of how it might be abused in the future even if it is created with good intentions. But the concept works like this: A person who tests positive enters their status into an app provided by a public health authority — probably using a QR code given to them by the testing facility. Their identifier beacon is then associated with their COVID status, and other phones that have been in close proximity with it will then receive notifications of that contact, with instructions to go get tested.
Mathematician Vi Hart, who recently produced this video to explain the four-phased process of reopening the economy in a pandemic, explains the identifier beacons as "your phone basically yell[ing] nonsense, it's gibberish... Everyone's phone is just yelling random nonsense, and your phone collects the nonsense it hears."
The program is rife with potential flaws, not the least of which is that it will require near universal adoption for it to work — with users not only having to own a smartphone but also having to opt in to the program. Also, there's the issue of false positives getting into the system — which hopefully QR codes would solve — and the issue of phones mistaking being on the other side of a wall, like in a next-door apartment, for close proximity or virus exposure.
Apple and Google say there will be a second phase to the project in which users won't need a separate app, because the status-entry function will be part of a platform that is built into the phone software.
It's not clear when iOS 13.5, or an update to Google's Android software with this new feature, will be rolling out to the public, but it is expected sometime this month.