iPhone and Android software updates introduce COVID-19 tracing tool

David Murphy

Anyone who updates their iPhone or Android handset’s operating system will find they have a COVID-19 tracing software tool in their settings following the updated, the BBC reports.

On iPhones, the tool can be found under Settings…Privacy…Health, while on Android handsets it lives in Settings…Google (services and preferences).

The tool, an exposure notification tool is switched off by default, and is not a tracing app but a bit of code that will enable the handsets to run such an app. The code will enable the app to measure the distance between two handsets, and then alert the phone’s owner if someone near them later tests positive for the virus.

The UK currently has no contact-tracing app, after the government dropped plans for the initial app that had been trialled on the Isle of Wight, in favour of a solution being developed jointly by Apple and Google. This will enable handsets to exchange data and alert people if they have been near someone who is found to have the virus, but without storing the data centrally.