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(Pocket-lint) - Apple has released iOS 13.7. It's a major software update that officially enables Apple's COVID-19 contact tracing notification system - the Exposure Notifications System - to work without having to download a separate app, such as one from a public health authority.

What's new in iOS 13.7? Plus, how to get it

  • Settings > General > Software Update

The iOS 13.7 software update introduces a new ‌Exposure Notification‌ section in the Settings app, where you'll see a toggle to turn on Exposure Notifications. Apple has also released a new version of iPadOS 13.7, but its Exposure Notifications System doesn't work on the iPad.

The iOS 13.7 update is available over the air for all eligible devices. To access the update, go to Settings > General > Software Update.

What is Exposure Notifications Express?

  • Settings > Exposure Notifications > Turn On

When you try to enable Exposure Notifications, your Settings app will let you know if the feature is available in your country, state, or region. If you live in an area participating in Apple's new "Exposure Notifications Express" feature, you can get Exposure Notifications without having to download an app. Otherwise, you need to use a contact tracing app through a public health authority.

According to Apple, Maryland, Nevada, Virginia, and Washington DC are among the first to join Exposure Notifications Express, but more states could follow in the future. Using Exposure Notifications Express requires iOS 13.7 and is entirely opt-in. Once you select your state or region and then opt-in, your iPhone can tell you if you may have been exposed to COVID-19, no other apps needed.

You can also sign up in Settings to be alerted when the feature is available in your area.

Want to know more?

Check out our guide on how the Exposure Notification System works.

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Keep in mind iOS 13.7 is likely to be the last update to iOS 13.7, as iOS 14 is expected to be‌ released in the coming weeks alongside new iPhones.

Writing by Maggie Tillman.