England and Wales' Contact-Tracing App With Apple and Google API to Launch September 24

An NHS COVID-19 contact-tracing app using the Apple and Google API is finally set to launch in England and Wales on September 24, the UK government has announced today (via BBC News).

nhs logo

The app performs distance-based contact-tracing like similar apps released in other countries. It will also allow users to scan QR codes to register visits to hospitality venues to aid contact-tracing.

UK businesses are being asked to display QR code posters to advertise the app. The Department of Health and Social Care also said that an alternate system, such as a handwritten register, must also be maintained for visitors who do not have smartphones.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock described the launch as "a defining moment and will aid our ability to contain the virus at a critical time."

The first version of the NHS contact-tracing app, intended for all regions of the UK, was trialed on the Isle of Wight in May. The app used a centralized tracing solution rather than the Apple and Google API, and was later scrapped entirely.

The new contact-tracing app for England and Wales will use the Apple and Google API for detecting other nearby smartphones. Scotland has already launched its contract-tracing app using the Apple and Google API.

The API is built into iOS 13.5 and later, and allows iPhones and Android smartphones to interface with one another for contact-tracing purposes. If and when you happen to be nearby someone who later tests positive for COVID-19, you can receive a notification and take the appropriate steps to self isolate and seek medical help if necessary.

Apple recently rolled out a new Express Exposure Notifications System that does not require an app to be downloaded for the feature to be turned on. After updating to iOS 13.7, a new ‌Exposure Notification‌ section appears in the Settings app where there's a toggle to "Turn on Exposure Notifications."

Activating Exposure Notifications lets you know if the feature is available in your country, state, or region through a contact tracing app. In areas that are participating in the Exposure Notifications Express program, users can turn on Exposure Notifications without the need to download an app.

Apple and Google have stressed the privacy of their Bluetooth-based solution, which must be enabled in the Settings app under Privacy > Health > COVID-19 Exposure Logging to function. Read our Exposure Notification guide for more details.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

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Top Rated Comments

GadgetBen Avatar
49 months ago
I'm pleased we got there, but the whole journey has been a farce.

It's sadly an example of how some powerful individuals in government are so out of touch with technology. In some ways this is so much more reliable than human contact tracing.

I hope people will use it, I've seen some of the early reviews for the localised rollout and you've just got loads of 'Karen's' giving one star reviews saying how it's not working on their iPhone 5 ?‍♂️
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Saturnine Avatar
49 months ago
I don’t want to get into an argument about the pros and cons of devolution and the independence of the nation states of the UK but it really is ridiculous that multiple apps are being developed and released to do exactly the same job.

Why there isn’t a single UK-wide app is beyond me. Basically the NHS systems in each of the nations have each paid for outsourced development and I fail to see the value in doing it that way.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Expos of 1969 Avatar
49 months ago
Matt Hancock......good lord. Not qualified to organise the first aid kits at a daycare facility, let alone be Health Secretary.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Stiss Avatar
49 months ago
We should have had this months ago. But the Government was stupid and stubborn.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SaxPlayer Avatar
49 months ago
They finally gave in and realised they'd have to go with everyone else and use the Apple/Google system. It makes sense to do it. Only time will tell how good Bluetooth really is at this, however I'd trust Apple and Google to get the software right much more than I would NHSx.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
threesixty360 Avatar
49 months ago
I can just imagine some ego driven dev said in a meeting that they could make blue tooth more accurate than Apple / google could...

And then some PM ran with it without challenging the dev because their are tons of PM’s that know zero about code.. and then that became a thing which the director ran with cos he trusts his team or whatever...

and ego drove the ship until it hit the rocks in an actual demo...

and I bet no one had actually seen the dev’s actual evidence that what he said could be done could actually be done. Yet they all went telling everyone they could. And more importantly no one has stopped to think how both Apple and google with their huge engineering squads couldn’t do reliably what your guys say they can do.

ego driven programmers combined with sharp deadlines and management that don’t know enough to challenge is the death of many a project.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)