Australian Government Blaming Apple for COVID-19 Contact Tracing App Flaws

Australian Minister Stuart Robert discussing COVID-19 contact tracing app in a TV interview

A senior Australian lawmaker has once again blamed Apple and Google for flaws with the country’s COVID-19 contact tracing app. However, Government Services Minister Stuart Robert also insisted that the COVIDSafe app is working “just as intended.”

‘Working With Apple and Google’ to Boost Bluetooth Signal Strength to Help COVID-19 Contact Tracing App

Mr. Robert told Sky News Australia that the country’s COVID-19 contact tracing app is assisting with manual tracing, as intended. “We’re working with Apple and Google to get the handset Bluetooth signal as strong as possible, but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective, doesn’t mean it’s not working,” he said. He did though discuss ongoing issues in the effectiveness of the app working between Android devices and iOS devices:

The effectiveness from Android to Android, it’s excellent, near 100%; the effectiveness from Android to iOS drops down. The effectiveness from an iOS iPhone 11 running the latest software will vary when it connects to an iPhone version 7, there’s not one rate or one level that it connects to, but right now it’s effective and is working well.

“Apple and Google could fix this tomorrow with their exposure notification framework,” the minister continued. “With a locked phone, the iOS, the Bluetooth works perfectly, so Apple could fix this tomorrow, they could actually ensure that the Bluetooth strength was at the highest possible level tomorrow for applications built in a sovereign framework and we’re working with Apple constructively on this.”

Dev Unconvinced Apple is to Blame

However, the idea that any flaws are Apple’s fault has been disputed. Developer Jim Mussared told ZDNet:

If the government are claiming that the issues are Apple’s fault, then it just doesn’t make sense when we know that there are perfectly good explanations that are not Apple’s fault. We know that there’s a bug here, and we know that it results in the app not functioning, and we know that it results in breaking connectivity to other devices. So what grounds have they therefore got to be blaming mysterious issues on iPhones?

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