Review: Apple iOS 13.5 – Coronavirus Edition Addresses Pesky Mask and FaceTime Issues

By Kurt Stolz on 20 May 2020
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Apple’s latest iOS update – 13.5 – is a sign of the times we live in.  The new version includes a new feature that allows users who are wearing masks to unlock their phones faster when they aren’t recognized by FaceID.  It also supports Covid-19 exposure notifications and improved group FaceTime calling.

Released on Wednesday, it should be available on your iPhone if you look for it in Settings or you can wait for your iPhone to alert you to its availability.

I have my iPhone set to only do updates manually but, once I knew it was out, it took about eight minutes from start to finish to complete the process, which was a rather painlessprocess.

The update covered three key features that became of particular concern as people began to change habits thanks to the coronavirus outbreak: using FaceID with a mask, FaceTime windows in group chats which would automatically resize, and support for coronavirus exposure notification.

Streamlined FaceID Unlock When Masked

While the update is not designed to recognize you when wearing a mask, it is meant to speed the process for entering your password.  What I found, however, is that – without any additional training – FaceIDunlocked the phone while I still had my mask on in at least one-third of my unlock attempts.  I varied the angle, lighting, and other factors that I thought could influence the feature, yet there it was.

When it didn’t unlock, it did seem to realize I was wearing a mask and it immediately allowed me to enter my passcode versus having to go through multiple FaceID unlock attempts first.  It wasn’t until the pandemic that I realized how much easier people with older iPhones with TouchID had it.

FaceTime Video Chat Becomes Less Annoying

If you didn’t often use group FaceTime prior to the coronavirus outbreak, you weren’t alone – and you probably had yet to be troubled by windows that constantly ballooned and resized as different people spoke.

Fast forward to the first shelter-at-home orders and the sheer number of gaggles held by friends using the feature and ballooning and resizing drove many people absolutely nuts.

With 13.5, users can go to Settings/FaceTime and turn off the Speaking toggle switch.  This will stop the tile of the person speaking from ballooning. If you want to enlarge someone’s face during a group chat, simply double tap on that person’s tile.

Support for Covid-19 Exposure-Notification Apps

The new version of iOS 13 brings back-end features into the iPhone that will allow apps supported by public health authorities that would anonymously notify an iPhone user should he have been exposed to someone with the novel coronavirus.

“When enabled, [the] iPhone can exchange random IDs with other devices using Bluetooth,” Apple explains.  “This enables an app to notify you if you may have been exposed to Covid-19.”  It’s important to note that the Exposure Logging feature cannot access any data in – or add any data to – the Health app.

The feature is turned on and off in Privacy/Health/Covid-19 Exposure Logging.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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