All you need to know about the NHS contact-tracing app launching today

The app uses Bluetooth technology to automatically detect if the user’s phone has been near someone who later tests positive for COVID-19.

England and Wales’ contact tracing app has launched today.

The smartphone app makes use of Apple and Google’s automated contact-tracing technology to detect if the user’s phone has been near someone who later tests positive for COVID-19.

If exposed, a notification will be sent to the user’s phone instructing them to self-isolate for a fortnight accompanied by a countdown.

Both the user and authorities are not informed of when the user was exposed to the virus or who they have come into contact with who tested positive.

Alongside the Bluetooth contact tracing feature, the app has a QR code scanner for registering your presence at venues such as shops, restaurants and bars.

The app also includes postal district alerts, the ability to report symptoms and subsequently book a free test and the latest government advice.

Modelling of the app usage by the University of Oxford indicates that the app could significantly reduce deaths and hospital admissions if at least 15% of the population download it.

Though, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said “there isn’t a figure” for what percentage of the population would need to use the app for it to be effective.

“I urge everyone who can to download and use the app to protect themselves and their loved ones”, he added.

The developers suggest the app should account for less than 5% of a device’s battery use.

The UK’s major mobile network operators, including Vodafone, Three, EE and O2, Sky and Virgin have all confirmed that in-app activity from the NHS COVID-19 app will not come out of their customers’ data allowances.

The app can be downloaded by residents of England and Wales aged 16 and over from the App Store or Google Play by searching for NHS COVID-19.

The minimum requirements are for your device to have at least Android 6.0 (released in 2015) or iOS 13.5 (released in May 2020) and Bluetooth 4.0.

The Department of Health and Social Care says their trials of the app have shown it works as intended – although the results of the trials have not been published.