Delayed by about a month, you can now download the Covid19 app in Canada, in Apple Store as well as Google Play. However if you are planning on using it on older phones, it will probably wont work and you won’t be able to see if you were exposed to the coronavirus.
Ontario users took to Twitter demanding explanation why they can not download the app that uses Bluetooth technology to exchange data with cell phones in the vicinity to see if you were infected.
Ontario Premier recommends using the app saying that the more people that will use the app, the more effective it will be.
The app will only work on newer Android phones as well as iOS 13.5 or higher on Apple devices.
Opposition parties say that it is disappointing to see that app does not work on older devices as most of the infected come from either lower income areas or older people who use older devices.
Unfortunately, while it has become very clear that a person’s socio-economic status is a key factor in their likelihood of contracting COVID-19, this app is not very accessible to those Ontarians who don’t have access to the latest smartphones or a pricey data package.
Toronto Public Health data demonstrates that lower income and racialized communities are far more likely to contract the virus, and many of the COVID-19 hot spots we’ve seen over the course of the pandemic have been concentrated in communities of new Canadians, communities with crowded housing, and migrant workers.
Yet, if these folks don’t have access to a newer smartphone — an iPhone newer than the iPhone 7, for example — they won’t be able to download it in the first place. The bottom line is that in order to be effective, this app has to be broadly accessible, regardless of income.
Sara SinghDeputy NDP Leader
The app was developed by the federal government and Ontario with the help from Shopify and Blackberry. The way it works is pretty simple, it exchanges codes with phones in vicinity and if you stay for longer than 15 minutes with someone who registers as covid19 infected, you will be notified (if you both have the app installed on your phones).
Some users had concern about privacy, but the app does not have your location, your name, your address, your phone contacts or your health information. Both provincial and federal privacy commissioners support the Covid Alert app.
The app has been downloaded more than 1.3 million times as of Monday.