England and Wales launched a new COVID-19 contact tracing app on Thursday after months of delays and amid criticism that the app does not work on some older mobile phones.
With coronavirus cases rising, Health Minister Matt Hancock said the new app would help NHS (National Health Service) Test and Trace, the scheme used to contact those who have been in contact with a COVID-infected person, to reach more people.
The app uses bluetooth technology to keep a record of contact between people who have it installed on their phones and notifies them if they have been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
It also traces contacts using a check-in system relying on people to scan QR codes displayed at the entrance to venues such as restaurants, cafes and pubs on their mobile phone.
People are encouraged to self isolate if they receive a notification saying they have been near someone with COVID-19 but it is not mandatory, Hancock said.
The app, launched several months after its initial deadline, has been criticised for not working on older iPhones released before 2014 and requires a 2020 version of Apple’s mobile operating system to function on its devices.