Social media is abuzz with reports of people finding the Covid-19 contact tracing system running on their phones without their permission. Android and iPhone user are claiming that Apple and Google have suddenly and stealthily installed a COVID-19 tracking app on their phone and advising other users to check theirs.
However, that is not quite the case. iPhone and Android phones now have a new tool dubbed COVID-19 Exposure Logging which is a contact tracing system. The tool will enable users to see if they have been in contact with someone exposed to Covid-19. However, that does not mean that there is an app installed and the tracker is automatically turned off on all phones.
If you click on the tool notification, it will open up a screen prompting you to install or finish setting up an app in order to activate the exposure notifications.
None of the devices have the app installed as Android and iOS have simply updated the devices with an add-on on the Application Programming Interface (API) to enable exposure notifications to work. This framework will allow the app to run on your device once it is available or if you choose to install it.
Apple and Google have been working on this since their announcement to collaborate in the fight against COVID-19 in April this year. In May, the two giant companies clarified that “what we’ve built is actually not an app – rather public health agencies will incorporate the API into their own apps that people install. Our technology is designed to make these apps work better.”