Apple rushes out iOS 13.5.1, macOS supplemental update with important security fixes

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The iOS 13.5.1 update brings important security fixes.
iPadOS and iOS 13.5.1 are out and “recommended for all users“ by Apple.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

Apple released iOS 13.5.1 on Monday, along with an iPad equivalent, bringing “important security updates” to its mobile operating systems. The speed of their introduction suggests anyone running the latest version on their iPhone or iPad should upgrade ASAP.

Also Monday, Apple dropped Small updates for Mac, Apple Watch and HomePod. Plus the latest beta versions of iOS and iPadOS for developers.

What exactly does coronavirus tracking in iOS 13.5 do? Clearing up the confusion

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Contact tracing could help slow spread of coronavirus.
Photo: World Health Organization

iOS 13.5 dropped Wednesday, introducing a slew of upgrades — including, most notably, the API for Apple’s coronavirus contact-tracing tool, developed in conjunction with Google.

But, despite what you might hear online, this is neither an “app” or an update that means downloaders are being tracked without their knowledge. Let’s correct a few popular misconceptions.

iOS 13.5 brings Apple’s COVID-19 tools to the masses

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iOS 13.5 golden master is available only to developers.
iOS 13.5 makes it faster to unlock an iPhone while wearing a mask, as well as other features related to COVID-19.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

All iPhone users can now install iOS 13.5. This includes the tools Apple and Google created to make COVID-19 contact-tracing applications. And this update brings a number of other new features focused on the current crisis.

Apple also released iPadOS 13.5, which incorporates many of the same features.

iOS 13.5 golden master means COVID-19 exposure notifications are almost here

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iOS 13.5 golden master is available only to developers.
The iOS 13.5 golden master gives developers an early look at a number of features related to COVID-19.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Starting Monday, iOS 13.5 golden master and the iPad equivalent are available for developers to test. The general public is likely to get access to them in a week or so.

This might be known as the COVID-19 update. It includes a number of new features, almost all focused on the current crisis. That includes the coronavirus contact-tracing tool Apple is developing in cooperation with Google.

iOS 13.5 beta simplifies sharing medical ID info with emergency dispatchers

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iOS 13.5 beta 4 makes sharing medical ID a snap.
With iOS 13.5, your iPhone can share medical ID info with emergency dispatchers.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

iPhone and Apple Watch will soon make it easy to share medical ID information during emergency calls. Basic details like allergies and medications can be sent to a dispatcher during the call.

This feature appeared in iOS 13.5 developer beta 4, which debuted on Wednesday.

Apple and Google’s contract-tracing system to ban Location Services access

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New guidelines are meant to help developers create easy-to-understand contact tracing apps.
Photo: Apple/Google

Apple and Google released additional details about their coronavirus contact-tracing system Monday, informing public health officials that they will not be able to use Location Services to track people. The companies also said they will limit use of the contact-tracing API to one per country.

Both companies also showed off what an app might look like on people’s smartphones — and shared sample pieces of code local governments could use in their own mobile apps.

Group FaceTime gets a lot less chaotic in latest iOS beta

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Sick of those taking on Group FaceTime growing in size? iOS 13.5 beta let's you disable it.
Photo: Apple

A Group FaceTime feature some people find irritating can be disabled in the upcoming iOS version. Currently, the tile showing the face of the person speaking gets larger, pushing everyone else aside. The iOS 13.5 beta introduced Wednesday gives users the option to turn this off.

iOS 13.5 beta speeds up iPhone sign-ins while wearing a mask

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iOS 13.5 makes signing into your iPhone wearing a mask.faster.
All kinds of people are wearing masks these days, and it’ll soon be easier to access your iPhone while wearing one.
Photo: cottonbro/Pexels

Unlocking your iPhone while wearing a protective mask might get a little quicker in iOS 13.5. Apple released a new beta of this upcoming version Wednesday, and it includes a neat trick that skips Face ID to immediately ask for a passcode if it detects the user is wearing a mask.