The one iPhone 12 setting you need to enable now

iPhone 12 review
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If you’ve just got an iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro then you’ll want to go and check COVID-19 exposure notifications are enabled if you want to do your best to avoid the deadly virus. 

When you set up a new iPhone 12 from an older iPhone backup, COVID-19 contact tracing apps might end up having their notification disabled, the BBC reported. While the app itself won’t be disabled, this could mean you might miss an important warning alerting you to potential coronavirus exposure. 

As it stands, this problem only appears to affect the official National Health Service (NHS) contact tracing app used in the U.K., which has already been marred by various problems and launch delays. But there’s potential for it to affect other contract tracing apps. 

However, we also found that our iPhone 12 review unit had Exposure Notifications turned off in the U.S. So we turned them on. 

How to turn on Exposure Notifications 

If you are worried that you might not be getting the right coronavirus notifications then you need to go into the native Settings app on iOS and navigate to the “Exposure Notification” sub-menu.

iPhone 12 exposure notifications

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Once there it’s simply a case of tapping on the Turn on “Exposure Notifications” option and you should be all set to receive notifications from coronavirus track and trace apps. 

After turning Exposure Notifications on and selecting a country and state, we were told that our region has an exposure notification app. In this case it was for the New Jersey Department of Health. We downloaded the app and then enabled permissions for notifications. 

The crux of the problem seems to be with iCloud iPhone backups. When you download a backup from iCloud, usually when setting up a new iPhone, it doesn't re-enable all the permissions you may have granted the backed-up apps. As a result, apps like the contact tracing tools won’t have permission to use a Bluetooth-based matching and tracing functionality. 

The NHS COVID-19 app Twitter account tweeted a list of devices that the app has been tested with and the iPhone 12 wasn't among them, so such problems aren’t necessarily a huge surprise given the iPhone 12 has only just launched. 

Some users have reported that simply deleting and reinstalling the app will then trigger a notification option to be enabled, though that’s hardly an elegant solution to the problem.

Some 18 million people have installed the NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app, so there’s potential for a large number of people to be affected by the problem given the popularity of iPhones. However with the NHS aware of the issue, we are hopeful that it will push out an update to ensure that important notifications aren’t quietly disabled when their users want them switched on.

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.