Earlier this week, the Canadian Government announced they were looking for beta testers for their COVID Alert Exposure Notification App. You can sign up yourself here. I signed up and this morning, got the invite to try out the app and provide feedback.
It’s expected that the app will be made available to all Canadians as soon as this week but I suspect the beta test may take a few days at least to get some feedback.
So how does this work? Your email will explain that you need to install Testflight if you’re using iOS which is what we’ll be showing here. Testflight is an Apple tool that allows app developers to share beta software with testers without needing to publish the app. It’s a free download from the App Store. Tapping on the link in your email will load the COVID Alert screen and allow you to install it to your device. There is a brief screen explaining what to test during the beta period.
Once installed, there really isn’t much to the application itself. There are numerous pages of information about how the app works, how your private data and information is protected (and not actually shared with anyone) and what will happen if an exposure notification is triggered.
One of the key points here is that it does not store any GPS/location data, personal information, contacts or any health information. It’s simply looking for other devices that are running the app.
You’ll be asked to give permission for the app to send you notifications. In my case, the app shows no reporting yet, which makes sense since the app isn’t public yet. Next you’ll select your Province and the notification popup will appear.
As stated above, it will get the list of random codes for those that have reported a diagnosis and if you come in contact with one of those codes, the app will alert you and instruct you through the next steps.
Lastly, as you can see in the black screenshot above, Exposure Logging is not yet available in my area. I believe that is because this app is not available yet but once it is, this control will allow me to enable or disable the logging on my iPhone. You can find this setting in your Settings/Privacy/Health options if you’re up to date with your iOS software.
Another thing to remember is that just because you have it running and aren’t getting any alerts doesn’t mean you’re any safer from contracting COVID-19. You still need to social distance, wear a mask and be vigilant when in public areas. The more people that install this app, the better the results will be as far as notifications go.
Will you use this app once available publicly? Or are you concerned about some aspect that wasn’t addressed above? Let us know in the comments.