Did the latest iOS update contain a hidden Coronavirus app?
Social media has been inundated with claims that Apple and Google have secretly included COVID-19 tracking and tracing apps in their latest operating system updates.
Eagle-eyed smartphone users have spotted a new ‘COVID-19 exposure recording’ setting in Apple and Android phones.
If you have an iPhone updated to the latest version of iOS, you can find this feature by going to “Settings”, then “Privacy” then “Health”.
If you are using an Android device, you will find it by going to “Settings” and then “Google Settings”.
But does that mean that a Coronavirus contact tracing app has been installed on your smartphone without permission?
The answer is no.
When you find the setting “ COVID-19 Exposure Logging ”, you will also find out that you cannot activate it, this is because it is a preventive setting that will only be activated if you download yourself a Coronavirus tracker and trace app, like the one the UK government hopes to someday launch.
The UK government and the NHS have created a coronavirus tracking and tracing app, without help from Apple and Google, that would allow anyone with the app to log symptoms. The app could then track down other people they came in contact with, provided they also downloaded the app.
Tracking and tracing is an important tool used to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, and is usually done manually after a person has been infected with the coronavirus. The government tracking and tracing working group then requests contact information for anyone the infected person may have been with and contacts them to say they may need to self-isolate.
This manual system takes a lot of time and effort, and the idea is that a working app uploaded by as many people as possible could really help make the whole tracking and tracing system more efficient.
The NHS app was created and tested on the Isle of Wight but this testing reportedly revealed issues with the app, and now it has been suspended indefinitely.
The government has now said it will work in tandem with Apple and Google to pool resources and technology on a new Coronavirus app, and that’s probably why the setting has appeared in smartphones.
In May, the two tech giants released a joint statement on their tracking and tracing technology: “Apple and Google have cooperated to create exposure notification technology that will allow apps created by public health agencies to run more precisely, reliably and efficiently on both Android phones. and iPhones. ”
“Our exposure notification technology is available to public health agencies on iOS and Android. What we have built is not an app, but public health agencies will be incorporating the API into their own apps that people install. Our technology is designed to make these applications work better. Each user can decide whether or not to accept exposure notifications; the system does not collect or use the location of the device; and if a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is their responsibility to report it or not in the public health app. User adoption is the key to success and we believe these strong privacy protections are the best way to encourage the use of these apps as well. ”