Apple has announced that it will release iOS 13.7 to the public including a major expansion of the COVID-19 Exposure Notification Platform.
The Exposure Notification System is a framework developed by Google and Apple that consists of an iOS and Android API and Bluetooth Low Energy spec with the global being to empower public health agencies to develop power-efficient and secure COVID-19 contact tracing apps.
The platform lets public health authorities set up COVID-19 contact tracing systems without having to develop a full-blown app of their own. Health agencies submit a configuration to Apple and Google with information such as how and when an exposure notification should be triggered and the next steps that users should take after they get an alert. Android users will then receive a notification alerting them to download a wrapper app created by Google from the Google Play Store.
The new Express system will coexist with existing apps using ENS.
Apple and Google are shouldering much more of the responsibility of the COVID-19 Exposure Notifications Express system. The companies say that they will use the information provided by the public health authorities to offer a fully operational Exposure Notification Systems on behalf of the public health authority directly integrated into iOS 13.7.
Public health authorities still have full control over the system, though, despite not needing to develop their own application. This includes controlling how the notifications are triggered, what next steps are to advise, and guidance for exposed individuals.
For iOS 13.7 users, you can now enable COVID-19 Exposure Notifications directly in the Settings app on their iPhone. The process is as simple as just a few taps, including agreeing to the public health agency terms. Users will also be able to opt-in to receive a push notification when their local public health authority adopts Exposure Notifications Express.
Once the users enable the exposure notifications in the Settings app, your iPhone will begin monitoring with Bluetooth to log possible exposures so you can be notified of a potential COVID-19 exposure based on the guidelines set by your local public health authority.
Apple and Google said in a statement, “As the next step in our work with public health authorities on Exposure Notifications, we are making it easier and faster for them to use the Exposure Notifications System without the need for them to build and maintain an app.”
“Exposure Notifications Express provides another option for public health authorities to supplement their existing contact tracing operations with technology without compromising on the project’s core tenets of user privacy and security. Existing apps using the Exposure Notification API will be compatible with Exposure Notifications Express, and we are committed to supporting public health authorities that have deployed or are building custom apps.”
Apple and Google hope that this expansion of the Exposure Notifications Express system will dramatically increase adoption, both from users and public health authorities.