After enabling COVID exposure notifications on my iPhone, I was not prompted to enable Bluetooth which was turned off in the control center at the time. I thought Bluetooth need to be on for this service to work.

If I turn off Bluetooth, will this service stop working?

iPhone 11
iOS 14.2

This is about the new exposure notification service that does not require a separate app to work (like it did previously). These are the "exposure notifications" built into iOS that were not available prior to iOS 14.

  • 1
    Please update your question to include the device type, iOS version, app name, and app version.
    – fsb
    Dec 8, 2020 at 22:08
  • Was Bluetooth actually turned off through Settings or only through control center? Control center only deactivates active connections for 24 hours as far as I know and also allows it to look for networks in the background.
    – X_841
    Dec 8, 2020 at 22:33
  • @X_841 it was off in the control center but it's always off in the control center (it never automatically turns back on). I suspect that may be it. Dec 8, 2020 at 23:34
  • Welcome to Ask Different. Be sure to edit the details in to the post, so people will see your specifics. Many people suppress comments entirely and they get deleted quite regularly when they fill up or get flagged.
    – bmike
    Dec 9, 2020 at 0:37

2 Answers 2


I would go back to basics. How are you disabling Bluetooth? The radio is active for system services in almost all cases and I would expect enabling COVID 19 exposure notifications implies that each device hardware listens and broadcasts on a separate hardware channel than any other Bluetooth emanation or pairing.

Both Google and Apple have the same design document up and someone with a Bluetooth sniffer could validate this as well.

  • It appears that the option to toggle Bluetooth in the control center only toggles the ability to allow new connections because when it's disabled in the control center a button labeled "Allow new connections" appears in the Bluetooth settings (but Bluetooth itself remains on). I feel like Apple should be more clear about that control center button because even after the research I did I'm still not totally certain what it does. Dec 9, 2020 at 15:48

Yes, exposure tracking requires Bluetooth. See, for example, the description of the Califonia effort now leaving beta, at California Covid tracking.

Now, why the phone didn't prompt you to enable Bluetooth, I couldn't say. Do you have your state's tracking app installed? Toggling the feature on in settings doesn't do anything if there is no app installed.

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