covid alert app

Here's what you need to know about the new COVID alert app in Canada

Canada has a new COVID-19 alert app, however, it's currently only available in Ontario. 

Designed by Canadian Digital Service using open source code from Shopify volunteers and the Apple/Google framework, the federally-backed app was first announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau back in June.

Available for both Google Android and Apple iOS users, the free app is 100 per cent voluntary. The app will notify users if they have come into close contact with another user in the past 14-days who has tested positive for the virus.

But how exactly does it know?

The app relies on users who test positive to enter a randomly-generated code. It then uses Bluetooth to exchange that code with other nearby phones alerting those users. 

One thing to note, the app considers close contact to be an interaction that occurs at fewer than two metres apart and lasts at least 15 minutes. It determines that based on the strength of the signal from the users' phones.

Despite only being made available for download this morning (the app was available in beta form last week) reviews have already started to surface online.

Canadians will also be happy to know that the app does not have access to location services, phone contacts or personal data.

For now, Ontarians will serve as the app's guinea pigs, however, the Prime Minister confirmed in a press conference this morning that the government is planning for a countrywide roll-out soon. 

In the meantime, he encouraged Canadians everywhere to download the app anyway, saying, "The more people who use it, the better it can trace, and therefore slow, the spread of the virus."

You can download the COVID Alert app via Google's Play Store and Apple's App Store.

Lead photo by

Engin Akyurt

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