Contact Tracing and Your SmartPhone

COVID-19 Contact Tracing and your SmartPhone


On September 1, Apple launched iOS 13.7.  While not a large update, it did come with a contact tracing feature without the need for a dedicated app.  This feature is defaulted to OFF until the user turns the feature ON.

In Apple’s case, this happened with iOS 13.7, and Google Android users gained a similar update in devices running Android 6.0.

Auburn University recommends our faculty, staff, and students used the GuideSafe app, available from the Apple App Store or the Android PlayStore. 

To find the Exposure Notifications feature in iOS 13.7, go to your Settings on your Apple device and scroll down, you’ll find a setting labeled “Exposure Notifications.”

Exposure Notifications on an iPhone


If you open this, you’ll see the Covid-19 notifications are turned off by default.  Using this setting does mean Apple is collecting more data, but the process is fairly private—at least as much as it can be—as Apple explains: Your phone is not collecting or sharing exposure notification data with anyone. If you turn on Exposure Notifications, information related to your exposures can only be shared with (the public health authority) with your permission.

How the contact tracing system works

Apple (and Google’s) contact tracing system is based on Bluetooth technology, which can detect when two smartphones come within two meters of each other for a certain period of time. If one of those people later tests positive for Covid-19, a notification will be sent to everyone they came into contact with.

For more information on this feature and Contact Tracing you can visit the following sites: