Canada’s COVID Alert app received an update to fix a bug that left several users without exposure notifications for two weeks in November.
The update, which dropped on November 23rd, included a patch note stating it fixes a “bug causing gaps in exposure checks for some users.” CBC News explains that the bug meant some users wouldn’t have received notifications if they came into close contact with someone who had COVID-19. Further, it’s unclear how many people missed these exposure notifications due to the glitch.
According to CBC News, the issue was first brought to the developer’s attention by commentors on the Google Play Store as early as November 12th. Along with Play Store users, CBC News spoke with Urs Hengartner, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Waterloo who said his device hadn’t performed any exposure checks between November 9th and 23rd.
The issue comes as COVID Alert passes 5.5 million downloads. Further, the app recently became available in the Northwest Territories.
Important reminder: go into your app store, and check that your #COVIDAlert app has the latest update.
This will ensure your app is doing what it’s supposed to do, and you’re not missing any checks or notifications. pic.twitter.com/nrMSItWvcj
— Canadian Digital Service (CDS) (@CDS_GC) November 26, 2020
CBC News reports that the Canadian Digital Service — the federal agency responsible for COVID Alert — tweeted a reminder for users to update COVID Alert to “ensure your app is doing what it’s supposed to do, and you’re not missing any checks or notifications.” However, the tweet didn’t mention that there was an update to fix that exact problem and didn’t warn of potential risks to users who may not receive exposure notifications. It’s unclear what, if any, other steps the agency took to warn users and encourage them to update the app.
Make sure your COVID Alert app is up to date
Despite the bug, it’s important that people continue to install and use COVID Alert. The app is not meant to replace other tools for combatting the spread of COVID-19, but it is helpful in warning users if they were potentially exposed.
COVID Alert users should make sure their app is up to date. Bug fixes aside, you should always keep your apps and software up to date, but this issue is definitely a good reason to update the app if you haven’t already. We’ve included instructions below for how to check the version and update the app on iPhone and Android:
iPhone users should head to the App Store and then search for COVID Alert. When you open the app page, there are two things to look for. First, the ‘What’s New’ segment will list the current version — make sure it’s 1.1.2 or higher. Then, look for the blue button next to the app icon and below the app title. If it says ‘Open,’ you have the latest version installed, but if it says ‘Update,’ tap the button to download and install the latest version.
Android users can check their app version by pressing-and-holding on the COVID Alert app icon and selecting ‘App Info’ or by going to Settings > Apps and notifications > See all apps > COVID Alert (it’s worth noting that some Android phone manufacturers may change or customize the Settings app, so the exact path to get there may differ on some devices).
Once you’ve accessed the COVID Alert App info page, tap ‘Advanced’ to expand the menu and scroll to the bottom to see the version. If you have 1.1.2 or later, then you should have the patch that fixes the bug. If you have an earlier version, go to the Play Store > three-line menu button in top-left corner > My apps & games > install the COVID Alert update listed there. You can also just search for COVID Alert to find the app and install the update.
Source: CBC News