Google said that presently it is investigating the issues that the Android apps using the Android Exposure Notifications System are facing to track the spread of COVID-19. The issue started causing delays for apps using the system, which further resulted in longer load times and delays in the notifications for regular exposure checks. The NHS COVID-19 app that was widely being used across Wales and England has also been affected by this Android issue, with a loading notification getting stuck in the notifications area for most of the users.
The tracing app in the Netherlands called CoronaMelder is also experiencing similar issues. More than 10 million people in England and Wales downloaded the NHS COVID-19 app in the month of September, but it’s not clear how many total downloads have been done to date or the split numbers between iOS and Android.
The issue has affected all apps globally that use Android Exposure Notifications System.
A Google spokesperson earlier said, “We are aware of the issue affecting Android apps developed using the Android Exposure Notifications System, our engineers are investigating and trying to rectify the issue.”
Now Google has informed that it has issued a fix, but it may take some time for issues to subside, though Google says that it’ll work directly with developers on the affected app to rectify the issue if it persists.
A Google spokesperson also said, “A problem with the Exposure Notifications System on Android started causing delays in the checking potential exposures for those with apps installed in the evening on January 12. We have issued a fix. It may take a few hours for all the devices to catch up with the fix, and in some cases, we may have to work with developers and we will do that to help them with recovery. The issue is not responsible for causing the loss of any data or any potential exposures.”
Google also provided better clarity on the issue. The company said that the issue was with the key signature configuration, which means notification apps ran into issues downloading diagnosis from their key servers. This resulted in notification delays, a serious issue given the importance of timely contact tracing efforts in reducing the spread of any positive COVID-19 cases. Google has advised users to not clear their storage in the app while the issue is being fixed.
Google introduced its coronavirus tracking system for Android users in April 2020. The apps use Bluetooth to broadcast data and help permit COVID-19 tracking and tracing programs globally.