25 September 2020

NHS Tracing app

The new NHS tracing apps, based on technology from Google and Apple, were made available to the wider public on 24th September after testing in the Isle of Wight and Newham. There’s been some criticism of the Apple version because it only works on newer iPhones. These are the ones that will run iOS 13.5 or later. The iOS extension that allows exchange of keys with other users of the app, the Exposure Notification API, was released in that version of the operating system.  

The issue isn’t with the app creators but with the Apple approach of denying operating system upgrades to fairly recent and fully functional equipment. This affects both iOS and MacOS users, forcing upgrades of good quality devices that should otherwise have years of useful life in them.  I don’t know whether this happens with Android devices too. 

Surely, in the COVID epidemic, it would be possible for both Apple and Google to release versions of their older mobile phone operating systems with their respective extension added, so that as many people as possible are brought into the tracing net. 

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