Apr 30, 2020

How To Opt Out Of COVID-19 Tracing in iOS 13.5 And Unlock iPhone With Face Mask on Face ID

Image via MacRumors
The latest iOS 13.5 developer beta 3 is now available for developers registered with the Apple Developer Program and with the developer beta profile installed on their iPhone and iPad. As with the coronavirus and technology are in par with containing, curtailing and reducing the spread of the virus, Apple and Google collaborated to bring a contact tracing feature to iOS and Android. For the iPhone users who want to opt-out or take part in this feature, this is the guide on where the switch is to turn off the feature, and how it works to know if an iPhone user is exposed to a COVID-19 case. The update today also included a fix for the iPhone X users and later on Face ID recognition.

As all of the iOS 13 beta testers known after the latest update to the third beta version of iOS 13.5, the contact tracing feature involves the use of Bluetooth and two or more iPhones and Android phones, with an app provided by local public health authorities and national government departments for COVID positive users to enter in testing information. An infected one, with a positive coronavirus test, inputs in their COVID-19 test results on their iPhone or Android phone and their device will provide random identifiers to exchange to other iPhone users via Bluetooth for 14 days. Any healthy iPhone users who come in the close presence of the infected user will be notified on their iPhones after the distribution of their identifier keys, that they have come into contact with a COVID positive person and are urged to self-isolate for 2 weeks. This project, led by a small group in Apple’s HealthKit department and the CEOs of Apple and Google co-operating on the features, will be available in the general public when iOS 13.5 publicly releases on May.

But if iPhone users are correlated with the privacy of their data and personal information shared with other users, then there is a way to exempt themselves from the contact tracing program. This is like when the Siri security breaches happened back in mid-2019, which eavesdropped on Siri conversations by accidentally summoning Siri.


To opt-out from the COVID-19 contact tracing regimen in iOS 13.5, the iPhone needs to be up to date on iOS 13.5 beta 3. Open the Settings app on the iPhone, scroll down to the Privacy section and tap on it. Go to Health and tap on COVID-19 Exposure Notifications. The switch is on by default after updating to iOS 13.5, but users can turn it off if they do not want to share their information with other users. Tap on the switch to turn it off, which should show only a white coloured switch, which means that it is turned off. Turn it back on to allow apps to notify you if there is a suspected coronavirus exposure from an infected iPhone user. Bluetooth is also required to be turned on for the feature to function along with other users.

Last, goes for the iPhone X and the newer iPhone users with the notches. The iOS 13.5 developer beta 3 update solves the issue of Face ID during the time that every iPhone user has to don a mask on their face. When the iPhone X launched as the very first iPhone to get Face ID, it claimed that it can unlock regardless if the user wears makeup, shaves off or grows their facial hair, dons and doffs their glasses or sunglasses and gets a facelift. Hence Apple’s claim, it did not include face masks from surgical masks, N95 particulate respirators, fabric masks and bandannas. The TrueDepth camera needs the entirety of the user’s facial features visible, from the eyes to the chin, to unlock their iPhone. Even a fabric face mask with a clear window that exposes the user’s lips with a clear barrier, will not be recognised by the TrueDepth camera. Face shields without a mask will be able to let the user unlock their iPhone.

Now iPhone users do not need to wait for the Face ID authentication screen to disappear or drag down their masks to unlock their iPhones. iPhone X and later users can swipe up the home screen indicator line on the bottom of the screen and enter in the passcode of the iPhone. This is an alternative method to unlock an iPhone X or later device, but the earlier Face ID method can still be used by the user’s choice.

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