Apple releases iOS and iPadOS 13.5 with COVID-19 exposure notification, Face ID improvements & more

Apple has been seeding beta versions of iOS 13.5 (which started as iOS 13.4.5) for weeks now, but the company has finally released the latest software update for the mobile operating system to the public.

On Wednesday, Apple released iOS 13.5 and iPadOS 13.5 to the public. This isn’t a minor update, despite the fact it actually started as iOS 13.4.5. Apple bumped up the version number to 13.5 after it implemented the groundwork for its brand new COVID-19 Exposure Notification system, or contact-tracing API, which it developed in partnership with Google. Now, with iOS 13.5 available to all, health organizations can launch their own contact-tracing apps that rely on the new API, making it possible to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

iOS and iPadOS 13.5 is available now as a free upgrade. If you have Automatic Updates turned on,  the new software will be automatically downloaded and installed when your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch is plugged into a power source and charging. However, if you do not have this feature switched on, you can simply open the Settings app –> General –> Software Update and follow the onscreen instructions to download and install the new software.

Tutorial: How to use all the new iPhone and iPad features in iOS and iPadOS 13.5

Below, you’ll find the official changelog for the new release, as well as a breakdown of the new features that Apple has included with the latest version of iOS and iPadOS.

New features

Face ID improvements

Face ID, Apple’s biometric security measure enabled by the TrueDepth camera in devices like the iPad Pro and iPhone 11 series, is a fast and easy way to unlock a compatible handset. However, the safety measures baked into the feature can mean wearing something like a mask makes it a bit more difficult to access your handset. Before the release of iOS 13.5, if the iPhone or iPad Pro owner was wearing a mask and tried to utilize Face ID the feature would fail and, after a brief pause, eventually bring up the passcode entry option.

Tip: Avoid Face ID mask issues by jumping to the passcode entry screen immediately

However, with this update Apple made a tweak to the Face ID feature that now makes things a bit faster, and, therefore, a bit more streamlined. Now when you are wearing a mask and try to use Face ID the system will still try to recognize your face, but, if it determines you’re wearing a mask it will more quickly bring up the passcode entry option. It makes the process a bit more streamlined when compared to the previous method, even if everything is still happening the same — albeit faster.

It’s a handy feature, especially with mask wearing being so important during the global health crisis.

Share Medical ID info during emergency calls

The built-in Medical ID within iOS is a handy element, one that you hope you’ll never need. With iOS 13.5 Apple is making it easier to share that information when it’s most important: during an emergency call. The new software makes it possible to opt-in to automatically sharing your Medical ID information when making an emergency call.

The information will be shared with the dispatcher who takes the call:

iPhone and Apple Watch can automatically send the information in your Medical ID to the dispatcher who answers your call.

This can speed up the process of getting the care you need.

The new feature can be activated after you open the Health app after downloading and installing iOS 13.5. The app will have you check over your pertinent information, confirm it is accurate, and then choose to turn on the ability to automatically send your Medical ID info when making an emergency call.

Share Apple Music songs to Instagram Stories

This has been possible through third-party apps and services, but now Apple is baking the ability to share songs from the streaming service to Instagram Stories directly through the app.

Tutorial: How to share Apple Music songs on Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories

To make it work, simply load up a song you want to share in Apple Music and then tap on the “Share” option. Selecting Instagram will populate a preview of what’s going to be shared, including a portrait of the album cover. The blurred background is animated and you’ll see the name of the song as well.

Disable Automatic Prominence in group FaceTime

The other big new addition is the ability to stop Group FaceTime from automatically making an active speaker float to the top of the group video call in a larger box than the other attendees. To turn it off, it’s a pretty simple process:

  • Open the Settings app
  • Navigate to and select FaceTime
  • Scroll down until you find “Automatic Prominence”
  • Tap the toggle to turn on or off the feature for whoever is speaking

You can also check out our handy tutorial as well.

HomePod update

Apple typically releases updates for its smart speaker, the HomePod, when it releases new updates for iOS. That. the case with this update as well, even if the version numbers don’t match. The HomePod has been updated to version 13.4.5, which includes general improvements for quality and stability. No major features were added with this new software update.

The HomePod will automatically update its software after you’ve updated your iPhone to iOS 13.5.

iOS 13.5 changelog

And here’s the official changelog:

iOS 13.5 speeds up access to the passcode field on devices with Face ID when you are wearing a face mask and introduces the Exposure Notification API to support COVID-19 contact tracing apps from public health authorities. This update also introduces an option to control automatic prominence of video tiles on Group FaceTime calls and includes bug fixes and other improvements.

Face ID and Passcode

  • Simplified unlock process for devices with Face ID when you are wearing a face mask
  • Passcode field automatically presented after swiping up from the bottom of the Lock screen when you are wearing a face mask
  • Also works when authenticating with the App Store, Apple Books, Apple Pay, iTunes, and other apps that support signing in with Face ID

Exposure Notification

  • Exposure Notification API to support COVID-19 contact tracing apps from public health authorities


  • Option to control automatic prominence on Group FaceTime calls so video tiles do not change size when a participant speaks

Emergency Services

  • Option to automatically share health and other essential information from your Medical ID with emergency services when you place an emergency call (US only)

This update also includes bug fixes and other improvements.

  • Fixes an issue where users may see a black screen when trying to play streaming video from some websites
  • Addresses an issue in the share sheet where suggestions and actions may not load

Some features may not be available for all regions or on all Apple devices. For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website:

iOS 13.5 is available now.