Official Contact Tracing App in England to Use Google – Apple Framework

England is giving contact tracing apps another try. The jointly developed Google – Apple framework is the base for the new software solution.

Contact-tracing apps should have been the perfect opportunity for the IoT industry to shine. It turns out, though, that having a working solution, software or hardware, to use in the tracing process of the COVID-19 pandemic infections, is a challenging proposition.

England already tried with a previous app, in a trial set up in the Isle of Wight in June. The trial failed for multiple reasons. The biggest problem was that Apple doesn’t allow third-party apps to keep the Bluetooth connection alive for long periods, so any tracing application using it is doomed to fail.

According to a BBC report, only 4 percent of the iPhones reported back because the other devices put the apps to sleep.

The government has now moved toward the Apple-Google framework, which doesn’t suffer the same limitations. The app should work the same, registering proximity to other people and time of contact. There is one addition, as people would have to scan QR codes when entering some properties, like a restaurant.

When one person confirms through the apps that he’s tested positive for the virus, everybody he came in contact with is notified, without them knowing the reporter’s identity. The phones store the collected data for only two weeks.

The Google – Apple solution has a problem, though. Recent tests showed that it could mistakenly register contacts even when they are more than two meters apart, which is the predefined safety distance. The companies don’t let developers access the raw data collected, so it’s impossible to refine the measurements, although it seems that might change by the year’s end.

Testing of the current contact tracing app is also taking place on the Isle of Wight, and hopefully, it could provide better results.

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