'NHS COVID-19' Contact Tracing App With Exposure Notification API Launches in England and Wales
NHS COVID-19, a contact tracing app created by the UK government, is rolling out to residents of England and Wales as of today, with the app available from the iOS App Store.
The app's debut comes a week and a half after the UK government said that it would launch on September 24, and a month and a half after the app became available to NHS Volunteer Responders, Isle of Wight residents, and Newham residents, all of whom have been testing the app.
Like other apps that take advantage of the Exposure Notification API from Apple and Google, NHS COVID-19 is designed to track who people come into contact with each other using Bluetooth, providing a notification if one of those people later comes down with the coronavirus.
Along with using a Bluetooth-based solution, NHS COVID-19 will let users scan QR codes to register visits to locations like stores and restaurants to aid in contact tracing, with UK businesses being encouraged to display QR posters for visitors to scan.
NHS COVID-19 will be available on iPhones running iOS 13.5 or later as well as compatible Android smartphones, which are able to interface with each other. Downloading the app will provide instructions on making sure notifications are enabled and the feature is functional.
The NHS did not initially plan to use Apple and Google's Exposure Notification API and was instead pursuing a different solution, but after the announcement of the API the NHS changed course and decided to work on an app using the Apple/Google API after all.
Exposure Notification apps have already launched in Scotland and Ireland, as well as in Canada, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and other countries. In the United States, Virginia, North Dakota, Arizona, Delaware, Nevada, Alabama, Wyoming, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania have launched apps that use Apple's Exposure Notification API.
More information on Apple and Google's Exposure Notification API, such as how it works and where it's available, can be found in our guide.
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