iPhone owners might just be waiting for iOS 14 to roll out one of the biggest changes to Apple’s mobile platform in a long while. That, however, doesn’t mean there’s no longer any room for smaller releases, nor does it mean there is no need for those either. In fact, Apple has just released iOS 13.6.1 as a small yet important bugfix update that addresses an issue that could severely impact the efficacy of its new Exposure Notification framework for COVID-19 contact tracing.
Introduced just a few months ago as a collaboration between Apple and Google, the Exposure Notification system gives authorized app developers some APIs to hook into to enable privacy-respecting contact tracing. This would remove the need to make workarounds that rely on unnecessary location access permissions that wouldn’t work anyway if the app has been backgrounded.
Unfortunately, it seems that a bug in iOS 13.6. that would suddenly disable Exposure Notifications without users knowing about it, reducing the system’s usefulness to zero. During these days, it’s critical for such privacy-focused automated systems to be working even without user intervention. Of course, that does presume there are that many apps using Google’s and Apple’s APIs and there aren’t that many yet.
iOS 13.6.1 also fixes an odd thermal management issue that is causing some iPhone screens to get a green tint. It also fixes the bug where unnecessary system data files are not automatically deleted when the device is running low on storage as they’re supposed to be.
iOS 13.6.1 is rolling out together with iPadOS 10.3.6, of course, as well as a macOS 10.15.6 supplemental update. The latter is also a bugfix release that tackles how the App Sandbox framework was apparently crashing virtualization software like VMWare and VirtualBox.