PSA: Your new iPhone 12 or 12 Pro might need contact tracing re-enabled
Getting a new phone is exciting, but it can also lead to spending an annoying amount of time adjusting settings, permissions and notifications for all your apps. Cloud backups are supposed to make this process easier, but they don’t always catch everything – for instance, you’ll want to double-check that COVID-19 exposure notifications are still enabled on your new iPhone 12 if you restored from a backup. They might not be, according to BBC News.
If you’re concerned you might be affected, you can re-enable exposure notifications in iOS by opening the Settings app, selecting Exposure Notifications, and clicking “Turn On Exposure Notifications.”
Users first noticed issues with the official National Health Service (NHS) contact tracing app in the UK. When some iPhone 12 and 12 Pro owners tried to open the app after restoring an earlier iPhone backup, they were presented with an error message. Deleting and redownloading the app seemed to solve the problem by prompted the users to re-enable COVID-19 exposure notifications — but also deleted all the locations the users had previously checked into.
It’s not clear if this issue is exclusive to iPhone 12 models or if restoring any iPhone from a backup might turn off the setting: we’re asking Apple and will update you with what we hear. When we restored one of our own iPhone 12 phones from a backup, we did notice exposure notifications were turned off — so we suspect the issue might be at a system level rather than with specific apps like NHS.
The exposure notification system was originally announced in April and uses your phone’s Bluetooth to let you know if you’ve come in contact with someone who’s tested positive for COVID-19. The resulting notification can also direct you to up-to-date COVID-19 information online and where you can schedule a test for yourself.
Contact tracing, whether automatic or conducted manually, is not a magic bullet to get COVID-19 outbreaks under control. But it is one of many steps, including a robust and easily accessible testing program, that can help you find out if you’ve been infected sooner so that you don’t contribute to the spread. Re-enabling these notifications is a low effort way – along with wearing masks and washing your hands – to keep people out of harm’s way.