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Covid-19 contact tracing app only works on newer Apple and Samsung phones

THE government’s Covid-19 contact-tracing app being trialled on the Isle of Wight only works on the newer operating systems of certain smartphones, it was revealed today.

Huawei and some older mobile phones cannot run the app, said Dr Geraint Lewis, who is in charge of its development.

Speaking to BBC Radio Solent, he said that phones needed to have the capability of running bluetooth low energy (BLE) wireless technology, to measure the distance between people’s phones, and to be running operating systems at least as recent as either Apple iOS 11 or Android 8.

About 55,000 people have downloaded the app so far, but several listeners had contacted the radio station to complain that the app was not working on their older devices.

Another listener said that the app drained the battery on their phone.

Dr Lewis said that the app had been designed for low energy consumption and only used 1 per cent of battery on his phone.

He asked for people with problems to give their feedback to NHSX, the government unit responsible for the NHS’s digital progress.  

Explaining how the app was meant to work, he said that it takes anonymous measurements of how far away someone is from other app users and it stores that information anonymously on the person’s phone.

Dr Lewis said: “If, later on, you develop symptoms of coronavirus, either fever or continuous new cough, then you can choose to send that information to the NHS, then we will notify anonymously those people you have been in close contact with and then arrange for a virology swab test delivered to your door in a few hours.”

He said that the system was “there to protect the whole community” if enough people download the app, adding: “Everyone will be protected, regardless of whether they themselves have a phone that is compatible.”

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