Berlin – Germany’s official app for tracking coronavirus cases did not function properly or even at all on millions of Android smartphones over a period of weeks, according to a media report.
Users of Samsung and Huawei phones, for example, did not receive warnings at all or in a timely manner if they had come into contact with the virus, the mass-circulation Bild tabloid reported on Thursday.
The problem was that a continual background update function was automatically deactivated when the app wasn’t open – which the operating system did to save battery power.
A spokesman for the SAP software company that developed the app together with the German government told Bild that “there was indeed a problem with earlier versions of the corona-warn-App in terms of background updates on Android devices.”
The issue was also confirmed by the app provider, Germany’s Robert Koch Institute agency for disease control.
“Automatic synchronisation in the background was disabled by some Android smartphones,” it said in a statement, according to the report.
The Health Ministry responded by saying that the problem had been identified some time ago and that it was explained in a section of the app for frequently asked questions.
This is said to explain how to keep the background updates running.
The ministry stressed, however, that the app functioned “at all times” and that the problem was with the Android settings, which can hamper any app.
The problem is said to have been fixed with a new version released on Wednesday.
The Corona-Warn-App works by anonymously alerting users if they have come into contact with someone who has reported a coronavirus infection to the app.
Downloading it is voluntary.
The RKI reported in mid-July that the app had been downloaded around 16 million times in the month since it was released.