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How to enable COVID-19 contact tracing on your iPhone, and receive periodic exposure notifications

Business Insider logo Business Insider 9/2/2020 insider@insider.com (Marissa Perino,William Antonelli)
a close up of a computer: It should only take a few moments to turn on COVID-19 contact tracing on your iPhone. Crystal Cox/Business Insider © Crystal Cox/Business Insider It should only take a few moments to turn on COVID-19 contact tracing on your iPhone. Crystal Cox/Business Insider
  • To activate COVID-19 contact tracing notifications on your iPhone, you'll need to make sure your iPhone is fully up-to-date, and enable it in your Settings app.
  • To fully enable the notifications, you'll need to download an official app — however, it's not guaranteed that your area will have an app.
  • At some point in the future, you might be able to enable contact tracing without an app.
  • Visit Business Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

It's been months since Apple and Google announced that contact tracing would be coming to iPhone and Android devices — but it's only recently that they've actually started to arrive.

If you update your iPhone to the latest version of iOS, you can now turn on exposure notifications. This lets your phone use Bluetooth to alert you when you're near someone with COVID-19 symptoms.

Here's how to make sure your iPhone is updated, and enable exposure notifications.

How to enable COVID-19 exposure notifications on your iPhone

First, you need to make sure you've updated your iPhone to iOS 13.7 or newer. If you have Automatic Updates turned on, you might already have it.

 

To check which software version you're currently using, or to manually install the latest one, you'll need to access the "General" tab of your Settings app. There, you can update your iPhone.

a screenshot of a cell phone: You'll need to keep your phone up-to-date. William Antonelli/Business Insider © William Antonelli/Business Insider You'll need to keep your phone up-to-date. William Antonelli/Business Insider

How to activate COVID-19 exposure notifications on your iPhone

1. Once you've updated, open the Settings app again.

2. Scroll down and locate the "Exposure Notifications" tab.

a screenshot of a cell phone: Open the "Exposure Notifications" menu. William Antonelli/Business Insider © William Antonelli/Business Insider Open the "Exposure Notifications" menu. William Antonelli/Business Insider

3. At the top of the page, tap "Turn On Exposure Notifications," and then tap "Continue" in the menu that appears.

a screenshot of a cell phone: You can also set it so you'll be notified when tracking apps become available in your area. William Antonelli/Business Insider © William Antonelli/Business Insider You can also set it so you'll be notified when tracking apps become available in your area. William Antonelli/Business Insider

4. You'll now be asked to select your country, and possibly your region or state. Do so, and you'll be told whether or not your region has a contact tracing app. If it does, tap "Open App Store" to find it. If it doesn't, you'll have to wait to enable any notifications.

a screenshot of a cell phone: Not all regions have tracing apps. William Antonelli/Business Insider © William Antonelli/Business Insider Not all regions have tracing apps. William Antonelli/Business Insider

5. Download your region-specific tracking app and open it. Once you do, you'll be asked to enable tracking notifications and regular notifications — enable both.

a screenshot of a cell phone: There are two types of notifications to enable. William Antonelli/Business Insider © William Antonelli/Business Insider There are two types of notifications to enable. William Antonelli/Business Insider

You should now be alerted whenever you're exposed to someone who has COVID-19, and has noted it in their own tracking app.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

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