The move casts doubt on the current application of the NHS, which was released to everyone on the Isle of Wight on Thursday during the first major technology test. The app uses Bluetooth signals on users’ smartphones to connect when people come into close contact. When someone goes down with Covid-19, the application sends alerts to people deemed to be at risk of infection, advising them to isolate themselves.
The NHS has decided to flee the model Apple and Google have created for health services to base their applications earlier this year. Under this model, all data is stored and decisions made over the phone, a system that companies say is better for security and privacy.
However, the NHS has argued that its system would allow the government to use anonymous application data to track hot spots of infection and learn more about the spread of the coronavirus.
The NHS model has been criticized by privacy groups and more and more experts, who have warned that the UK application could face the same technical problems as other countries such as Australia, who also opted for their own design.
Earlier this week, the company behind the Australian app CovidSafe admitted to discovering Bluetooth connection issues when the app is running in the background of Apple phones, which means that some contacts may not be saved correctly.
Last month, Germany abandoned its attempt to create its own centralized app after being unable to obtain Apple’s Bluetooth permissions. He has now returned to building a decentralized version along the lines of the Apple and Google models, joining other countries such as Italy, Switzerland and Estonia.