Apple Releases iOS 12.5.1 With Exposure Notifications Bug Fix for Older iPhones
Apple today released iOS 12.5.1, an update that is available for older iPhones unable to install the iOS 14 update. The update features an Exposure Notifications bug fix.
The iOS 12.5.1 update can be downloaded all on eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to Settings > General > Software Update.
Apple in December released iOS 12.5 alongside iOS 14.3, bringing support for Exposure Notifications to older devices for the first time.
According to Apple's release notes, today's update addresses a bug that could cause Exposure Notifications to incorrectly display logging profile language.
Apple's Exposure Notifications system is now available in a wide range of countries, and many states have also adopted it, including North Dakota, Arizona, Delaware, Nevada, Alabama, Colorado, Wyoming, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, Washington, Connecticut, Nevada, the District of Columbia, and California.
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Top Rated Comments
I am a developer and my developer friends and I did a deep dive on how this feature is implemented on the iOS side. Nothing at all strikes me as even remotely creepy.
Logging randomized Bluetooth ID of nearby devices (within 33 feet), which changes every 15 minutes and cannot be traced back to a specific user, and storing only on your device and not on the cloud is certainly private enough. And the feature only notifies you if those tested positive manually and voluntarily logs the positive test results.
Where is the privacy concern here?
At no point the information is transmitted to the server. It is only when a person tested positive voluntarily logs test data that any potentially identifiable data is transmitted to the server. Even then, the data is completely anonymized so it is technically impossible.
And to general public, only the database of infected randomized and anonymized Bluetooth IDs is transmitted to the phones.
At every steps, there's zero location information. Zero identifiable information. Only the randomized Bluetooth IDs that changes every 15 minutes. Apple (and I presume Google) does not store your location or any other information, whether it be on your phone or on the server.
My only quibbles are that (1) the feature can decrease your battery life (between 3-10%), (2) it is not super easy to enable it, (3) it is not widely promoted, hence many people have false information on what it does and how it works, and (4) not enough states and countries support it.
But meanwhile after waiting through the entire holiday season, there's still no iOS 14.3.1 release to fix the myriad of issues plaguing iOS 14.3 is disappointing. Still waiting on a fix for:
* Mail app badge and mail list don't update consistently
* MagSafe cases cause lock sound to "glitch" intermittently
* Cellular modem crashes and loses connectivity when connected to a 5G network that uses DSS, needs firmware update
* Swipe up to unlock sometimes stutters and doesn't work, and swiping up to go home often stutters and opens app switcher
* Display issues: yellow screen tint and/or dark glow when displaying black areas on screen
* Volume issues: system sounds like keyboard clicks and lock sounds are intermittently quieter or louder than volume setting
If you step outside at least few times a week and live in a decently sized city, you will probably note at least a handful of "Matched Key Count" here and there. "Match Key Count" corresponds to ANY exposure to those tested positive within 2 weeks. These timestamps correspond to when the database is updated, not when you were exposed. iPhone scans and logs Exposure Notifications enabled devices within 33 feet and when the database matches, "Match Key County" is incremented.
You will be notified according to the state/country's notification threshold. In California where I live, the threshold is within 6 feet and 15 minutes or longer. CA derives these values after months of testing, as to reduce false positives (e.g., you are in a car next to infected or would-be-infected).