UK ministers still considering switching NHS app to Apple and Google's framework

Nhs Contact Tracing
Nhs Contact Tracing (Image credit: NHSX)

What you need to know

  • The UK is still not ruling out switching its contact tracing app to Apple and Google's framework.
  • Its current, centralized system is bogged down with issues in testing.
  • Bluetooth handshakes are far less effective without support from Apple and Google for background operation.

The UK's NHS contact tracing app continues to be plighted by technological issues, and reports suggest that ministers are still considering the possibility of using Apple and Google's framework instead.

From the BBC:

Concerns about the risks of deploying a go-it-alone UK coronavirus contact-tracing app are causing further delays.A second version of the smartphone software was due to have begun testing on the Isle of Wight on Tuesday, but the government decided to postpone the trial.Ministers are considering switching the app over to tech developed by Apple and Google.

UK health minister Matt Hancock recently said the UK would launch the contact tracing app "when the time was right." The app was meant to be ready by June 1, or even mid-May, but is still undergoing testing on the Isle of Wight. According to the report:

Number 10 is concerned that iPhones will not always detect each other because of a restriction Apple has imposed on apps that do not adopt its model.But the UK team has devised a workaround and is more concerned about other limitations of using Bluetooth.

Such limitations include the variation of Bluetooth readings, which are affected by placing a phone in a handbag, positioning, indoor vs outdoor use, and more. After weeks of delay, however, many will be less concerned about the effectiveness of the app and more so as to whether it will actually ever be released.

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Stephen Warwick