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Covid-19 software quietly installed in latest Android & iPhone OS updates not from S’pore

On the contrary, S’pore has dismissed the possibility of using such software, preferring to use its own TraceTogether system.
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June 22, 2020, 03:25 PM

iPhone and Android users who have updated the operating system (OS) of their phones lately would be able to see that Covid-19 contact tracing software has been installed as well.

And some have been quick to conclude that there is something fishy going on.

Covid-19 contact tracing software not from Singapore government

The new software installed is part of the Exposure Notifications System, jointly created by Apple and Google, to facilitate contact tracing.

It is currently not in use in Singapore, and has been rejected by the Singapore government.

The system allows both Android phones and iPhones to exchange anonymous “identifier beacons” with each other when their users are close by, and keeps a record of the interactions for the last 14 days.

The Exposure Notifications System was publicly announced on April 10 by Apple and Google in a joint statement.

The statement also said this technology would be available from May 20.

The two companies said: “What we’ve built is not an app — rather public health agencies will incorporate the API into their own apps that people install. Our technology is designed to make these apps work better.”

Singapore not adopting Exposure Notifications System

Singapore’s government has rejected the Exposure Notifications System in favour of its existing TraceTogether system, which operates through the TraceTogether smartphone app, as well as wearable contact tracing devices called TraceTogether tokens.

In a June 14 Facebook post, Vivian Balakrishnan, who is Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation initiative and Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that the Apple and Google system was “less effective in our local context”.

Exposure Notifications System will not work without a compatible app

Settings pertaining to Exposure Notifications will start to appear in the settings of iPhones and Android phones.

However, the Exposure Notifications System will not work without a compatible app.

How to see the updates

Android phones

Android phone users who have recently updated their software can see the new menus under Settings > Google:

iPhones: iOS 13.5

For iPhone users, Exposure Notifications will be installed together with iOS version 13.5.

The settings for Exposure Notifications can be found under Settings > Privacy > Health:

The new iOS version also includes an update which allows those wearing masks to unlock their phones more quickly:

Top image via @nordwood on unsplash and screenshots from Android and iOS

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