How to Enable and Disable COVID-19 Exposure Notifications on iPhone

May 21, 2020 - 37 Comments

How to Enable COVID-19 Exposure Notifications on iPhone

Apple and Google have teamed up to aid governments and health authorities in the fight against the SARS-COV2 / COVID-19 pandemic by releasing the first version of their COVID-19 exposure notification API for both iOS and Android devices. For iPhone users, this arrives as a COVID-19 exposure logging feature in iOS 13.5 and later that eventually may pair with regional apps for contact tracing.

Previously referred to as the contact tracing API, the tech giants aim to assist developers who’re working for health authorities in creating apps that can alert users if they’ve been in contact with an infected person. This is made possible by using Bluetooth to securely share your random IDs with nearby devices and collect their IDs. These IDs are then deleted after 14 days, which is the above average incubation period for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease.

It’s up to you to decide if you want to opt-in to this anonymous logging and notification system. In this article, we’ll be discussing how you can enable or disable COVID-19 exposure logging and notifications on your iPhone.

How to Enable and Disable COVID-19 Exposure Logging & Notifications on iPhone

This feature is available to iPhone with iOS 13.5 and later, earlier devices will not have this functionality. Note that you’ll also need an app from a health authority to make use of this function, and availability of such apps depends on many factors including regional support.

  1. Open the “Settings” app on your iPhone or iPad.

    iOS settings icon
  2. In the Settings menu, scroll down and tap on “Privacy”.

    How to Enable COVID-19 Exposure Notifications on iPhone
  3. Under Privacy settings, tap on “Health”.

    How to Enable COVID-19 Exposure Notifications on iPhone
  4. Here, you’ll see the option for COVID-19 Exposure Notifications / “Exposure Logging” right at the top. Tap on it.

    How to Enable COVID-19 Exposure Notifications on iPhone
  5. Use the toggle to enable or disable it according to your preference at any time.

    How to Enable COVID-19 Exposure Notifications on iPhone

That’s pretty much all there is to enable and disable COVID-19 exposure logging and notifications on your iPhone.

Apple says that users will have the explicit choice to turn on the technology once it’s rolled out. Once enabled, and combined with an eligible contact tracing app, public health agencies can quickly inform users if they’ve been in contact with an infected person through their respective apps. With this API, they can determine how long the users were in proximity and the approximate distance between their devices using Bluetooth signal strength.

The current version of the COVID-19 exposure notification API is a developer-focused release and apps will be taking advantage of it sooner rather than later to combat the pandemic situation. However, contact tracing may be introduced at the system level in the second phase of this program’s roll-out later this year and will function without a third-party health authority app.

COVID-19 exposure notification system does not collect location data from the device and does not share identities of other users to each other, according to Google and Apple. Users have complete control over the data that they want to share, if they choose to share it.

It’s also worth mentioning that not all states, countries, and health authorities will use this API, so even if you enable (or disable) the feature, if you’re in an area without support you may not find the app has any functionality anyway. What states, countries, and health authorities, are using this Google & Apple feature will likely vary over time as well.

If you wish to learn more about this feature and the exposure API, you can read more on Apple.com contact tracing page, and you can also learn more in general about what Apple is doing regarding COVID-19 at COVID-19 page here.

Did you choose to enable or disable COVID-19 exposure logging and notifications? Do you think Apple and Google’s implementation of this technology will be a major help to the government in tracing infected cases? Do let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments section down below.

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Posted by: Hamlin Rozario in iPhone, Tips & Tricks

37 Comments

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  1. hank says:

    The main issue is what or who the hell has given Apple permission to put this notification on anyones phone in the first place? The very first question they should ask when you go to install the update is do you give permission to have this Covid notification installed on your phone. That way you have a choice. They don’t give you a choice and that should tell you everything about what is coming for us in the next few months or years. It it not much of a leap to realize the next step will be governments ordering you to download an app so you can be tracked or whatever the hell else they want to do.

  2. G says:

    👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

  3. K®¥¶πK says:

    They aren’t actually “Tracking” you. Most areas don’t have the equipment, manpower, or time to track everyone. That doesn’t concern me, what does is the fact these jacka** “techno d*cks” like Google, apple, fb, Twitter, etc do more damage when it comes to peoples personal info getting exposed than hackers ever do! Go look at the grand total of peoples personal info including payments accouts, social media and passwords etc. It’s was more sh*t than there are ppl!

  4. K®¥¶πK says:

    Yeah but guess what, When you panic things go to s**t! We know what the deal is now. The media took this s**t as well as everything else and ran with it and quit frankly I think alot of them should be held accountable! When I f*** up big at work… Wait I don’t have a job atm. It would be real nice if the people such as yourself would start listening to someone else because hearing this same garbage and seeing those stupid mask commercials is really making a higher and higher percentage of the US look more and more incompetent. And from what I’ve been seeing, we are the laughing stock of the world! It’s pathetic, and screw the vaX.

  5. Grace says:

    Very deadly?

    If you are reasonably healthy, under 65 years old, not living in a nursing home, and don’t have multiple health conditions your chance of dying from COVID-19 is less that 1%. Depending on whose numbers you use your chance of dying is in the .2% to .3% range. That’s two tenths of one percent. That has almost identical death rates as the seasonal flu.

    What exactly is this supposed to do. The law of unanticipated consequences can’t be undone. This will be used to track people. Just one more tool for tracking. I refuse to use this. I will not surrender my civil liberties to your fear.

    • There Is No Spoon says:

      Why don’t you volunteer in a COVID ward and see how it compares to the flu yourself? I’m sure plenty of nurses and doctors would be happy to hand their shift over to you so they can spend time with their families.

      Flu has a 0.02% CFR so you’re completely wrong. Also, flu doesn’t disable some survivors with impaired lung and organ function, nor does flu skirt the immune system like HIV as COVID19 does, so comparing COVID to flu is like comparing polio or measles to flu. This is a novel disease that humans have no immunity, exposure, or resistance to, which is part of why it’s so harmful, why is that so hard to understand? Science is hard for some people, I get that, but this is not complicated.

      As for tracking and your civil liberties, your cell phone, computer, every surveillance camera, ATM, stop light camera, modern cars with internet hotspots and assistance cameras, etc are all already tracking you 24/7, corporations and governments already have free access to that data knowing exactly where you are at all times and what you are doing. Every electronic device you interact with is tracking you, every website you put a photo on has used facial recognition to document your appearance and to check sentiment and emotion (and more), if you’re unfamiliar with the extent of surveillance, it’s wide open to research and learn about, you might want to start with what Edward Snowden told everyone that most ignored.

      There is no privacy in the modern digital world. If you don’t want to be tracked constantly and at will, don’t use technology. But yea, be worried about a disease notification trying to inform you that you have been exposed to something dangerous…

    • Liza316 says:

      Agreed, Grace.

  6. Mark Coleman says:

    So as I have an iPhone 6, I cannot install IOS 13.5, so I cannot take part in this adventure!

  7. Derek Currie says:

    This article WILL be useful eventually. However, at the moment there are no known apps at the iOS App Store that use the API. That will hopefully change ASAP.

    IOW: If you *cannot turn on Exposure Logging* at this time, that’s the case with almost everyone!

    Keep up with your state and county COVID-19 information for news of a compatible app provided For Your Area.

    Having apps for out of your area of living and visitation will not helpful or relevant.

  8. Don Noel says:

    What you didn’t tell us is that one can’t take the last step until one has installed an app “that can send exposure notifications”. there appear to be a lot of such apps; it would be helpful to have a recommendation

    • Louie says:

      No, not a lot of such apps. There are still very few as the API was just released to developers. At least the one for iOS, no idea what’s going on on google’s side.

  9. Me says:

    Guess I won’t be installing 13.5 IOS maintenance…LOL! This should have been done solely in an app…

  10. Kim Rysell says:

    Mine too.

  11. Mike E says:

    I have 13.5 installed but cannot engage the COVID-19 Exposure Logging because I do not have the app. What’s the app’s name?

  12. Daza says:

    Not available in the UK… for the time being.

  13. louis says:

    The ability to enable Covid 19 logging is greyed out and not usable. This article is useless and should never have been publicized until AFTER testing. It just does not work!

    Also only works on iPhone. not on my iPad- you should have identified which iPads it was supposed to work on if at all.

  14. mcclainra says:

    As a longtime supporter, and user, of apple and their products, I’m not sure I believe that this can be easily deleted, and is another way for Big Brother to track us. To begin with, covid-19 his a huge fraud, and has been. Lies, lies, lies about a virus that is no more dangerous than our annual flu viruses, and in my opinoion a bioweapon being used to destroy Trump as nothing else has done so.

    I have iPhone 11, and am downloading the update, and do hope that I can disable it. In reading yesterday, before getting this, it appears that their is another app needed for it to work anyway. It’s sort of like Apple refused to help open the iPhone(s) of the terrorist who killed several in Pensacola (thankfully, with the help of Israelis, authorities were able to get into his phone), but yet with this tracker, are they going to be tracking our every move??

    Guess we will have to wait and see, but will definitely be checking here for updates on this.

    • Derek Currie says:

      “Lies, lies, lies”.

      No. Please don’t let your personal perceptions turn into memes that can lead to other people’s infection and death. Your statement is irresponsible, paranoid and entirely unfounded.

      I too an wary of nonsense pulled on We The People by nefarious people. I know of proven examples (which would be pointless to list here). But by no means is COVID-19 a fraud. Making such statements without any verification references makes people making such statements look like fools. Subsequently, when an actual fraud is pulled on We The People, immediately the paranoid and wrong conspiracy theories come to mind and the actual fraud is discounted as just another lunatic rant. The relevant child’s story is ‘The Boy Who Called “Wolf!”‘. Comprehend?

      • Fred the Head says:

        Apparently, people have died unnecessarily in nursing homes through US and folks without jobs had nothing to do with that.

      • JO says:

        The ‘fraud’ is the overinflated amount of people they said will die, the overblown ‘positives’ that actually had some
        symptoms so they called them positive and the number of people who died with covid not of covid.

    • Charlie Bravo Foxtrot says:

      Oh come on let’s not turn a useful tech site into another conspiracy nonsense thread from your crazy friends Facebook page.

      – The COVID-19 virus is very real, it’s highly contagious, and very deadly, it’s apolitical, and it exists around the entire world. If you think it’s political, it’s because YOU are political and that blinds you to truth – wake up and pull your head out of the partisan sand.

      – Apple regularly hands over all iCloud data for iPhones involved in investigations. If you backup your iPhone to iCloud, it’s a clone of your entire device, that is every single thing on it, and Apple willingly hands that data over to authorities on a regular basis for nearly any request. And that could be your data too!

      – Getting into the device is irrelevant if the device iCloud backup has been restored onto another iPhone – it’s a clone of the original iPhone anyway. Do you understand that? Backup your iPhone, erase it, and restore iCloud to your iPhone, you’ll see how it works. Apple can’t break their own device encryption because it would create a huge security hole that every sketchy group and person in the world would take advantage of, but third party services and governments have hackers that specifically research these things and use 0day exploits and jailbreaks to bypass device security on a regular basis – InfoSec and security exploits are an entire industry.

      If you were actually concerned about tracking and privacy you’d be upset at who is running “Big Brother” and why they still allow tracking and surveillance in the first place. In reality, you probably voted for people who support surveillance, and they are continuing to support it right now because it still goes on unquestioned every day. They could stop it, but they don’t, why is that? And you will still vote for them because you’re political rather than rational, you’re partisan rather than actually concerned about privacy. And if you were concerned about tracking and privacy, shouldn’t you be upset that Apple handed over iCloud data to “Big Brother” as well? Maybe you haven’t thought this through as much as you think.

  15. Howard Chapman says:

    Howard

  16. Alan Hann says:

    I installed 13.5 but do not find Health under Privacy.

  17. Dan says:

    We are becoming China.

  18. Dina says:

    The notification toggle ( on and off) is grayed out.

  19. Essam Khairullah says:

    Obviously meant iPhone 11 Pro Max!

  20. Essam Khairullah says:

    My iPhone 12 Pro Max with iOS 13.5 only has an option named COVID-19 Exposure Logging. It won’t let me enable Exposure Logging because, “You cannot turn on Exposure Logging without an authorized app installed that can send Exposure Notifications.” So I guess I need another app.

    It also has settings for specifying the Active App, and Exposure Checks, which says, “This is a record of all requests to check your Exposure Log from the past 14 days.” which is a nice touch. Lastly is an option to Delete Exposure Log, which is greyed out since I don’t have logging enabled.

  21. JayTee says:

    I updated to 13.5 and that doesn’t look like what I’m seeing. When I follow your procedure I’m getting a message saying:

    “You cannot turn on Exposure Logging without an authorized app installed that can send Exposure Notifications.”

    And the toggle won’t change.

    • Steward says:

      Correct, most health departments don’t have apps using the COVID notification system yet so the feature is there but it’s not really usable yet. I figured Apple and Google would do this on their own but apparently they are waiting on governments, which means it may be a long time or never happen of course.

      So it’s a good idea but not if it’s not used I guess.

  22. arniiii says:

    Further research has revealed that this functionality will be based on apps that work at a local level, and that currently there are very few (if any) available. And even once these apps are available, it’ll need a sizable percentage of people to opt in to be useful on any level, which is highly unlikely to happen due to everyone’s privacy concerns. So while this feature is a nice good will gesture from apple, in reality it’s mostly useless.

  23. arni says:

    Doesn’t work for me – I get a long message -“You cannot turn on Exposure Logging withut an authorized app installed that can send Exposure Notifications (…and a lot more)”. But it doesn’t say what that app might be.

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