Last night, the NHS launched its official contact tracing app here in the UK on the iOS app store and Android too. This app is using the official Exposure Notification API developed in conjunction by Apple and Google, the NHS did initially plan on an contact tracing app not using the API but quickly back tracked to develop one using it.
The official Exposure Notification API has been designed to protect users privacy at the upmost level, it allows iPhones and Android devices to communicate entirely anonymously using Bluetooth, they are only sharing unique keys, no personal information, location data of any kind is shared. The whole purpose is if someone comes into contact with someone else who later develops Covid symptoms, all the people they have been in contact with will get a notification to say they may have been exposed and should seek advice/take further action. The whole purpose is to not share any personal information with the app developer, which in this case is the government.
When you download the app, it’ll ask for the beginning part of your postal code and nothing else, on iOS a prompt will appear to allow communication with the Exposure Notification API and that’s it.
Apps using the Exposure Notification API are now running in Scotland, Ireland and now England and Wales. Other countries in Europe also using it are Germany, Poland and Denmark. The US has tackled this on a state by state basis, rather than a national app. Not many states have signed up yet, those who have are Virginia, North Dakota, Arizona, Delaware, Nevada, Alabama, Wyoming, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
On iOS the app requires you have iOS 13.5 or later and it needs Bluetooth 4.0 to work, so older iPhone models are not compatible for obvious reasons.