UK-dwellers might have expected to be able to download and install the UK government sanctioned, NHS-X branded, Covid-19 contract tracing app by now. It was claimed to be a success in trials in the Isle of Wight and was trumpeted as becoming available across England from 1st June, by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, reports the BBC. Such an app is thought be an essential tool to safely relax the 'lock-down' across the country.
According to the BBC, the UK's homegrown app, now open-sourced, has been having issues with the method of estimating contact proximity via Bluetooth is causing problems for developers. A record of any app users' proximity to others who go on to contract Covid-19 is an important thing for the tracing app to get right.
Over recent weeks I have received many emails from privacy rights organisations about the UK app's centralised approach to contact matching and tracing. User data will be processed on a central server - but that data will be good for the NHS to get a bigger picture of what is going on. Some other countries, and tech companies, solutions are decentralised with the app doing the contact tracing and matching on something more like a peer-to-peer method.
On Tuesday Poland decided to switch from centralised to decentralised design. Likewise, countries such as Switzerland, Ireland, Germany, Italy, and Latvia have adopted the Apple-Google tracking tech.
With time marching on, and new cases and deaths mounting up, there are some ministers that are considering that a switch to Apple-Google tracking tech would be the right choice. Perhaps because of this, the app rollout across England didn't happen at the start of the month and instead it has been indicated that the app will be ready at the start of next month, though no final decision on timing has been taken.
Do HEXUS readers have any thoughts about the UK's Covid-19 contact tracing app?
Update, 18th June 2020: "UK virus-tracing app switches to Google-Apple model," reports the BBC.