The province of Alberta has revealed there are now over 231,000 registered users of its ABTraceTogether contact tracing app launched back in May.
The future of the ABTraceTogether app remains in jeopardy after the Government of Canada launched its COVID Alert contact tracing app on Friday, which uses Apple and Google’s exposure notification API. This framework allows Bluetooth to work in the system background on iPhones and Android smartphones, unlike other contact tracing apps.
With ABTraceTogether, the contact tracing app requires a user’s smartphone display to be left on and unlocked for it to work effectively, deemed a privacy flaw (and battery drain concern). The Alberta government continues to blame the federal government for blocking Apple from working with them to fix ABTraceTogether.
However, Apple and Google are only allowing one app per country to use its exposure notification API, to prevent confusion. This means COVID Alert, which launched on Friday in Ontario, is the official app that will be adopted nationwide and no other app will be able to use Apple and Google’s API in Canada—including ABTraceTogether.
“We’ve had discussions with the federal government, but no decisions have been made at this point about next steps,” said Tom McMillan with Alberta Health, speaking to the Calgary Herald last week.
“We support an interoperable national approach to all contact tracing apps in Canada. We’ve offered to make our app interoperable with theirs, but need more info on their app to do so,” added McMillan.
Alberta Health continued to say, “We have asked repeatedly for this interference to be lifted and hope to resolve the issue soon,” noting, “Alberta is committed to supporting our users and our public health tracers by addressing this issue.”
COVID Alert will notify users if they have been exposed to people that have tested positive for COVID-19, with the latter deciding if they want to share their results with others or not. Aside from Ontario, more provinces and territories are expected to sign on with COVID Alert, including Atlantic Canada next, said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week.