NHSX releases contact-tracing app's source code

In a bid to build trust in its contact tracing app, NHSX, the digital wing of the NHS, has publicly released the app's source code. Anyone can head over to NHSX’s GitHub page and view the code for the iOS and Android versions of the app. This will allow those who are concerned about the app to go in and have a look at how it works, it’ll also allow security researchers to look at the code for vulnerabilities and submit patches.

Image showing Bluetooth drain on battery
Battery usage after about 6 hours of running the NHSX Contact Tracing app.

Experts have said that the app needs to be picked up and used by 60% of the UK population if it is going to be successful, however, after running the app for a day, it appears to drain quite a lot of battery life; this could be a huge barrier to the app gaining widespread adoption.

While it’s nice to see NHSX open up the code for the app, it may be redundant soon as a report in the Guardian suggests that the UK government is open to the possibility of switching to the decentralised method if it proves to be more effective.

The app is currently being trialled by residents on the Isle of Wight, it’s unclear how long it’ll take until the government asks the rest of the country to download it but it’ll probably wait until last minute issues have been worked out. Of course, if the government does decide to go with a decentralised contact tracing app, the instruction to download the app could be delayed.

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