Apple has released iOS 12.5.1 for older iPhones and iPads today, roughly one month after the release of iOS 12.5. The update includes bug fixes for the COVID-19 exposure notification feature.
Apple rolled out iOS 12.5 to older iPhones and iPads last month, bringing support for COVID-19 exposure notifications. This was a major change as it expands contact tracing to iPhones that don’t support iOS 14, including devices like the massively popular iPhone 6 series.
In the release notes for the update, Apple simply says: “This update fixes an issue where Exposure Notifications could incorrectly display logging profile language.”
iOS 12.5.1 is available for the following devices:
- iPad Air
- iPad mini 2
- iPad mini 3
- iPhone 5s
- iPhone 6
- iPhone 6 Plus
- iPod touch 6th gen
How do COVID-19 exposure notifications work?
When a user enables the feature, the device will regularly send out a beacon via Bluetooth that includes a random Bluetooth identifier. When two people are near each other, their phones will exchange and record these Bluetooth identifiers.
If someone tests positive for COVID-19, they can voluntarily report the positive test to the Exposure Notification application for their region. The Exposure Notification API will also likewise download a list of the keys for the beacons that have been verified as belonging to people confirmed positive for COVID-19, and check against that list. If there is a match, the user may be notified and advised on the next steps.
Privacy is a tentpole of the Exposure Notification API. Perhaps the biggest privacy protection in Apple and Google’s Exposure Notification API is that location data plays no part in how it works. The two companies say that these applications should collect as little data as possible, and location data is not needed for this Bluetooth-based approach.
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