Business Maverick

Business Maverick

Apple to Let iPhones Use Contact Tracing Without Installing App

A customer views an Apple iPhone X. Photographer: Michael Short/Bloomberg

Apple Inc. on Wednesday released an early version of its iPhone software that lets users opt-in to the company’s Covid-19 contact-tracing system without installing a public health app.

Apple’s beta update, known as version iOS 13.7, is available to a group of testers who have signed up to try out software updates before they are released to the public.

The new system “lets you opt-in to the COVID-19 Exposure Notifications system without the need to download an app,” Apple said in its release notes to testers. “System availability depends on support from your local public health authority.”

Apple first launched the contact-tracing system with Google in May. The initial version required users to download a public health app, an extra step that potentially limited user adoption. This latest update, which Apple and Google call “Phase 2,” skips that step.

Read more: Apple, Google Bring Covid-19 Contact-Tracing to 3 Billion People

However, Apple users must still opt-in via a new Exposure Notifications menu in the iPhone settings app. The feature also requires users to live in an area where a public health authority offers an app. Currently, only six U.S. states — Alabama, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming, Virginia, and North Dakota — are using the Apple and Google system. Other countries, including Switzerland, Austria and the U.K. have also adopted it.

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