Sep 25, 2020

Contact-tracing app: First version worked on more phones

The original NHS Covid-19 app, which was shelved, would have worked on a larger number of handsets than the app which launched in England and Wales this week, I have discovered. "Compared to version two of the NHS app that we're using now, this app appears to have a significant advantage in terms of distance-measuring accuracy, at least up to about eight metres," said Prof Alan Woodward, a computer scientist at Surrey University. Under the management of Baroness Harding's Test and Trace organisation, a new team started work on an app using the Apple Google privacy-focused toolkit, which had already been adopted by many other countries. Engineers at VMware carried on developing the Bluetooth technology behind their app and believe they have improved it, going some way to mitigating the problem with detecting iPhones and making the measurement of distance between phones even more accurate. Prof Woodward said that while the VMware software was likely to be more effective than apps based on the Apple/Google API, "It retains the privacy issues discussed at the outset of building these apps".

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