Apple and Google in 'Standoff' With UK Health Service Over COVID-19 Contact Tracing App

by

Apple and Google are said to be in a "standoff" with the UK's health service over its plans to build an app that alerts users when they have been in contact with someone with coronavirus.


Apple and Google announced on Friday that they are working together on Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus around the world.

Apple says that user privacy and security will be central to the design of the project, which will use a decentralized API to prevent governments from building a surveillance-style centralized database of contacts.

However, according to The Guardian, that means if the NHS goes ahead with its original plans, its app would face severe limitations in its operation.

NHSX – the British health service's digital innovation unit – reportedly wasn't aware of Apple and Google's project before it was announced, and it now looks like the usefulness of its own app will be severely hampered or even rendered non-functional if it doesn't implement the protocol.

That's because without adhering to the Apple and Google API, a contact tracing app won't be able to access Bluetooth when it's running in the background, and would only work when the app was open and the phone unlocked.

Similar limitations have been demonstrated in Singapore's contact tracing app, TraceTogether, which requires the user to leave their phone unlocked to work properly. The app has a three-star rating on the App Store and has been installed by just 12 percent of the country's population.

For its part, a spokesperson for NHSX denied claims of a "standoff," telling The Guardian: "This suggestion is completely wrong. Everyone is in agreement that user privacy is paramount, and while our app is not dependent on the changes they are making, we believe they will be helpful and complementary."

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
12 weeks ago


Please bear in mind that this was printed in a British newspaper therefore the chances of it being accurate are slightly less than 1%.

Basically move along, there’s nothing to see here.

We're talking about The Guardian, not some ****y tabloid.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
12 weeks ago


Please bear in mind that this was printed in a British newspaper therefore the chances of it being accurate are slightly less than 1%.

Basically move along, there’s nothing to see here.

Err.... The Guardian is probably one of the most reliable and respected British newspapers with a strong history scrutinising and accurate investigative journalism.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
12 weeks ago
So they built an app that had zero chance of being approved, with always-on BT access a la Tile, and now that Apple announced a framework to actually make it possible, they are... complaining?
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
12 weeks ago


So they built an app that had zero chance of being approved, with always-on BT access a la Tile, and now that Apple announced a framework to actually make it possible, they are... complaining?

Please bear in mind that this was printed in a British newspaper therefore the chances of it being accurate are slightly less than 1%.

Basically move along, there’s nothing to see here.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
12 weeks ago


Not this ^^^.

We're talking about The Guardian, not some ****y tabloid.

The Guardian is nothing short of a rag.

I'm pretty sure that Apple and Google will be doing everything they can to assist such development, so the chances of them hindering it for API usage limitations is virtually zero.

It would benefit everyone if The Guardian just disappeared.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
12 weeks ago


Evidence?

Err, living in the UK, with a relative who has almost certainly had C19, and having done considerable research into the situation taking information from multiple different sources.

Here in the UK they aren't even regularly testing frontline health workers. People with suspected C19 are directed to stay at home, unless their breathing becomes seriously problematic, by which point the chance survival will have dropped significantly. The UK has managed to test slightly over 200,000 people so far of a population of 60 million. Germany are testing 500,000 people every *week*. And with testing barely available, there hasn't been ANY contact tracing to speak of, because what would be the point.

The UK's response to C19 has been woeful. I take my hat off to the NHS healthcare workers who are taking considerable risks to try and care for seriously ill people, but who are being failed by our government as they haven't even got appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) which is necessary to keep safe.

Despite this the daily national press briefing claims that there aren't problems with PPE, when there clearly are. Our government are telling lies on a daily basis.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Hands On With iPhone 12 Models Showing New Sizes and Design

Monday July 6, 2020 2:04 pm PDT by
Ahead of the launch of new iPhones we often see dummy models created based on leaked schematics and specifications, with those models designed to let case makers create cases for the new devices ahead of their release. We got our hands on a set of dummy models that represent the iPhone 12 lineup, giving us our first close look at the iPhone 4-style design and the different size options. Subscri ...

Everything New in iOS 14 Beta 2: New Calendar Icon, Files Widget and More

Tuesday July 7, 2020 11:38 am PDT by
Apple today released the second beta of iOS 14 to developers for testing purposes, tweaking and refining some of the features that are coming in the update. Below, we've rounded up all of the changes that we found in the second beta. - Calendar icon - There's a new Calendar app icon in iOS 14 beta 2, with the day of the week abbreviated rather than spelled out. - Clock icon - The clock...

iPhone 12 Sizes Compared with iPhone SE, 7, 8, SE 2, X, 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max [Update]

Tuesday July 7, 2020 6:49 pm PDT by
Apple is planning on launching the iPhone 12 this fall which is rumored to be coming in 3 different sizes: 5.4", 6.1" and 6.7". The middle size (6.1") matches up with the currently shipping iPhone 11, but the other two sizes will be entirely new. Over the weekend, there was some excitement about how well the new 5.4" iPhone 12 compares to the original iPhone SE. Those who have been hoping...

Tom Hanks Discusses 'Heartbreaking' Shift of WWII Film Greyhound From Theatrical Blockbuster to Apple TV+ Exclusive

Monday July 6, 2020 7:53 am PDT by
Tom Hanks' WWII drama "Greyhound" is set to premiere on Apple TV+ this Friday, July 10, and ahead of that debut the actor gave an interview with The Guardian discussing the film. "Greyhound" was originally planned to see a theatrical release this summer, and was repeatedly delayed in the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Apple won the streaming rights to the film, and in the new...

Developer's Visual Comparison of macOS Catalina and Big Sur Offers Closer Look at Apple's UI Redesign for Macs

Tuesday July 7, 2020 4:00 am PDT by
macOS 11 Big Sur is the next major release of Apple's operating system for Mac, and following its preview at WWDC, one of the biggest discussions has revolved around the all-new user interface redesign. Developers are still learning what the impact the new UI will have on their apps, and with that in mind, app designer Andrew Denty has compiled an extensive visual comparison of the user...

5.4-Inch iPhone 12 Model Size Compared to Original iPhone SE and iPhone 7

Saturday July 4, 2020 9:44 pm PDT by
iPhone 12 dummy models based on leaked schematics have been starting to circulate online and in online marketplaces. Not happy with the circulating size comparisons between the rumored 5.4" iPhone 12 and the original iPhone SE models, MacRumors forum user iZac took matters into his own hands and purchased his own 5.4" dummy model to provide more detailed size comparisons between the original...

Shipping Estimates for 27-Inch iMac Continue to Slip, Now Into September

Monday July 6, 2020 6:55 am PDT by
Amid rumors and hints of a forthcoming update for the iMac, supplies of Apple's current 27-inch iMac continue to dwindle with mid- and high-end stock configurations now seeing shipping estimates pushed back into September. The 27-inch iMac has seen tight supplies and extended shipping estimates for months now, but the situation has been gradually worsening to the point where new buyers can...

Apple Cuts iPhone Trade-In Values as iPhone 12 Launch Nears

Tuesday July 7, 2020 7:46 am PDT by
With just two months to go until the usual timeframe for Apple's iPhone launch events, Apple is cutting back on maximum trade-in values of previous-generation iPhones for those looking to upgrade to a new model. Maximum values on more recent models have dropped by $30–$50, while older models have generally dropped by $5–$20 with a few models seeing no change in value.iPhone XS Max: $500 to...

Analyst Believes iPhone 12 Pricing Will Start $50 Higher Even Without EarPods or Charger in Box

Wednesday July 8, 2020 9:35 am PDT by
Despite multiple reports indicating that Apple will not include EarPods or a wall charger with iPhone 12 models this year, one analyst believes that pricing will still increase slightly compared to the iPhone 11 lineup. In a research note provided to MacRumors, analyst Jeff Pu forecasted that iPhone 12 pricing will start at $749 for a new 5.4-inch model, an increase of $50 over the base...

14-Inch MacBook Pro With Mini-LED Display Expected to Enter Production in 2021

Wednesday July 8, 2020 7:51 am PDT by
Apple suppliers will begin competing to win manufacturing orders for new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with Mini-LED displays in the first quarter of 2021, according to Taiwanese research firm TrendForce. Rumors of a 14-inch MacBook Pro have surfaced since Apple replaced the 15-inch MacBook Pro with a new 16-inch model last year. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has previously said that...