Apple Updates Roundup: iOS 13.5, WatchOS 6.2.5 and tvOS 13.4.5

Updated May 26, 2020: Added MacOS and HomePod updates

Apple has released another round of updates to its various platforms.  Along with its regular round of bug fixes and security patches, the updates to iOS adds some various help for the new realities of COVID-19.

iOS: Face mask assistance contact tracking

On iPhones that use FaceID to unlock and authenticate, you’ll now have a slightly easier time when wearing your mask.  With iOS 13.5, when FaceID detects a mask, the iPhone will automatically bring up the passcode field, which will also happen when other apps request FaceID support for unlocking or purchasing things in apps.

Contact tracing support comes to iOS as well as to Android via a joint venture by Apple and Google with smartphones running their respective systems.  9to5Mac has a good sample documentation provided by Apple for what this can look like.  While you will still need an app that can tap into this, some state and national governments, can publish apps that can tap into these features.  Both Apple and Google claim they are following best privacy practices as they can while helping try to prevent the spread of the virus.

Also in the health related notes, Americans can now share their Medical ID info when placing call with their local emergency services.  Medical ID is your medical info that you can make available from the lock screen.  In the event of a medical emergency, local paramedics, firefighters, etc. could access this from your iPhone’s lockscreen to see things like your name, emergency contacts, weight, and medical conditions to help give you the best care in the event you were unresponsive.  Now if you go into the Health app, and you’ve set up Medical ID, you’ll be prompted to enable the sharing of this info with emergency service centers in the event you call them.  This feature is disabled by default, and Apple notes that it cannot see any of this information.

There are a few other fixes and additions, including Group FaceTime calls getting a new option to not resize the bubble of whoever is speaking.

Full release notes are as follows below:

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

FaceTime

  • 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: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT201222

Mac: Battery Management

A little late to the party, but better late then never. MacBooks that have the Thunderbolt 3 ports now have access to a new battery management feature. You can find this by going to System Preferences, open Energy Saver, and in the bottom right corner you’ll see a battery health option. This will be enabled by default in any Macs running 10.15.5 and that have Thunderbolt 3 ports, but can be disabled. The idea is to help prolong the life of your battery and reduce peak capacity as the battery ages, very similar to the iOS feature of the same name.

They’ve also added some special calibration features to their Pro Display XDR and adjustments to FaceTime’s prominence feature as mentioned in iOS.

Full changelog is as follow:

macOS Catalina 10.15.5 Update –– Restart Required

macOS Catalina 10.15.5 introduces battery health management in the Energy Saver settings for notebooks, an option to control automatic prominence of video tiles on Group FaceTime calls, and controls to fine-tune the built-in calibration of your Pro Display XDR. The update also improves the stability, reliability, and security of your Mac.

Battery Health Management

  • Battery health management to help maximize battery lifespan for Mac notebooks
  • Energy Saver preference pane now displays battery condition and recommends if the battery needs to be serviced
  • Option to disable battery health management
    For more information, please visit https://support.apple.com/kb/HT211094

FaceTime Prominence Preference

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

Calibration Fine-Tuning for Pro Display XDR

  • Controls to fine-tune the built-in calibration of your Pro Display XDR by adjusting the white point and luminance for a precise match to your own display calibration target

This update also includes bug fixes and other improvements.

  • Fixes an issue that may prevent Reminders from sending notifications for recurring reminders
  • Addresses an issue that may prevent password entry on the login screen
  • Fixes an issue where System Preferences would continue to show a notification badge even after installing an update
  • Resolves an issue where the built-in camera may not be detected when trying to use it after using a video conferencing app
  • Addresses an issue for Mac computers with the Apple T2 Security Chip where internal speakers may not appear as a sound output device in Sound preferences
  • Fixes a stability issue with uploading and downloading media files from iCloud Photo Library while your Mac is asleep
  • Resolves a stability issue when transferring large amounts of data to RAID volumes
  • Fixes an issue where the Reduce Motion Accessibility preference did not reduce the speed of animations in a FaceTime group call

Some features may not be available for all regions, or on all Apple devices.
For more detailed information about this update, please visit: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT210642
        
For detailed information about the security content of this update, please visit: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT201222

Apple Watch:  Health to Saudi Arabia and new Pride Watch Faces  A picture of the Emergency Acces to Medical ID prompt that will be shown at the top of the health app after updating to iOS 13.5

Apple Watch users in Saudi Arabia will now have access to the ECG/EKG functions of the Apple Watch on Series 4 or newer watches, as well as the irregular heart rhythm notifications.

Apple also released new rainbow Pride watch faces, however some users are reporting that they don’t see them after updating.  Apple says to make sure the iPhone is running 13.5 and the Watch is running 6.2.5, and to try a reboot.  This may be something where Apple has to issue a supplementary update if this turns out to be a wider spread issue.

Full release notes are as follows:

watchOS 6.2.5 includes new features, improvements and bug fixes:

  • ECG app on ‌Apple Watch‌ Series 4 or later now available in Saudi Arabia
  • Irregular heart rhythm notifications now available in Saudi Arabia

Apple TV and HomePod: Bug and Security Fixes

There isn’t really much to cover here, this is primarily to fix a number of security flaws found, most of which are shared with iOS and macOS.  Apple TV and HomePod updates to 13.4.5.

Older Systems:

Apple has continued to support some of its older systems.  Apple updated iOS 12 to version 12.4.7 and Watches running WatchOS 5 have been upgraded 5.3.7, both coming with their own bug fixes as well as shared security patches with iOS 13.  Interesting no updates to the previous generation Apple TV’s, they are still running 7.5 at the latest reports.

All the Security fixes:

Apple fixed a lot of security problems in its latest round of updates, far too many to cover, so if you want the full list of updates I recommend you check out their Security Updates page.

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