iOS 18 is the end of an era — latest iPhone update removes COVID exposure notification feature

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple announced the iOS 18 iPhone software update during the WWDC opening keynote on June 10 before making it available in the initial developer beta on the same day. We're still learning more and more about the update as people start to put it through its paces, including some tweaks that Apple didn't announce.

Not all of those tweaks are big or obvious, of course, and some of them are just interesting to note because they usher in the end of an era or the beginning of a whole new one. One example of that is a new report that iOS 18 beta 1 removes the settings for COVID-19 Exposure Notifications.

The feature did exactly what it sounds like it would do — it alerted iPhone owners if they came within close contact with someone who had reported a positive COVID-19 test. At the height of the pandemic, this was a vital feature for those who suffer from impaired immune systems in particular, but many countries have closed down their track and trace systems. Now, Apple is readying the removal of the feature from iPhones, too.

Gone, but not forgotten

"iPhone is using Bluetooth to securely share your random IDs with nearby devices and collect their IDs. this enables an app to notify you if you may have been exposed to COVID-19," the settings app read at the time of its implementation. "Random IDs are deleted after 14 days. Apps you authorize can notify you if you've been exposed to COVID-19. You can also choose to anonymously share your COVID-19 diagnosis."

However, some reports on social media say that the option for Exposure Notifications has been removed from iOS 18. Notably, this doesn't appear to be the case for everyone, however, and the change appears to depend on what part of the world you happen to live in.

Apple is expected to release iOS 18 to the world this fall, likely alongside the arrival of the iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Pro. If you can't wait until then, you can download the iOS 18 beta now, but don't install it on a device you rely on. 

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.