The COVID Alert app for iOS and Android is currently in beta testing, ahead of its final launch, which remains unknown. The app, which uses technology from Apple and Google, was originally set to launch in Ontario after Canada Day but was delayed.
Now, according to The Logic, COVID Alert could launch this week, as per unnamed sources from the Ontario and federal government.
The Logic says there are more provinces looking to support the COVID Alert app, with discussions having taken place with British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick. Officials in Quebec have seen a demo of the COVID Alert app.
Ottawa wants as many people to voluntarily download the COVID Alert app and is apparently set to launch a public campaign to inform users of the benefits of installing the app.
When installed on your smartphone, COVID Alert will use Bluetooth in the background and exchange random “handshakes” with other devices when you’re in close proximity. The app does not know your location data and its data collected stays on your devices.
If one of these users with COVID Alert tests positive for COVID-19—and decides to grant permission to health authorities to report it—devices in contact with this said user will be automatically notified of their exposure to coronavirus.
Utilizing Apple and Google’s API, COVID Alert will allow system background use of Bluetooth on your device, meaning it’ll work when your phone is locked and the screen is off, unlike Alberta’s ABTraceTogether app, which requires your phone to be on and app open. Apple and Google are only allowing one exposure notification app per country to use its API, hence why Alberta’s app won’t be able to fixed to support Bluetooth in the background.
According to The Logic, both the federal and Ontario government are working with developers from Shopify still to tweak bugs related to COVID Alert. The main problem is getting integration with local health systems on board, which are required for the exposure notification app to work. Other issues are related to accessibility features to support visually impaired users, to go with problems linked to downloading exposure keys.
Those tested positive for COVID-19 need a one-time code from their local health authority to plug into the COVID Alert app. This setup is to prevent fraud or false alerts to be sent in regards to COVID-19, according to sources.
One source told The Logic a “theoretical” download target for COVID Alert would be 60% of the Canadian population.
Most people believe an exposure notification app launch would be timely now, ahead of any major second waves of COVID-19, likely expected during this fall and winter (#fluseason).
Are you going to install COVID Alert if and when it’s publicly released?