What you need to know
- Contact-tracing apps have fallen victim to Android OEMs and their aggressive power-saving measures, as per a new report.
- The German Corona Warning app failed to deliver notifications to millions of phones in the country as a result of being killed in the background.
- A new update will now let users keep the app active in the background while Huawei says it has fixed the issue on its devices.
Contact tracing apps are one of the ways technology is being deployed to smother the ongoing pandemic, but even they have their flaws. With Apple and Google rolling out integrated contact tracing systems for their respective operating systems, countries quickly built apps that plugged into those systems, allowing consumers to be notified if they came into contact with an infected party.
That was the plan on paper. A little quirk common to some of the most popular Android phones and their OEMs has thrown a wrench in the execution. German publication, the Bild (via WinFuture) reports that on multiple Android phones, specifically Samsung and Huawei phones, notifications from Germany's Corona-Warn-App weren't arriving on time, if at all.
This is a side-effect of the power-saving measures taken by many popular OEMs to eke out every second of possible battery life from their phones, limiting the "smart" functionality. It's irritating at the best of times, and downright dangerous in a situation like this. Samsung and Huawei are called out here due to their large German marketshare, but other offenders include OnePlus, Xiaomi, Meizu, and ASUS.
German publication Heise says that Huawei has now whitelisted the Corona Warning apps so notifications can now come in as normal. The app developers have also rolled out a new update that lets users keep the app running perpetually in the background.
It's worth noting that the contact tracing itself via apps that use the built-in tools from Apple or Google (or Huawei's HMS) isn't affected, just the notifications.