I took a detailed look at Apple’s implementation of COVID-19 Exposure Notification tech, built by Apple and Google for contact tracing. I went through every US state, and the list of countries, and it’s a very sad state of affairs. It’s CRAP and health systems and government agencies all around the world should be ashamed of themselves. While Google and Apple are at least making an attempt to help, they are not making it better fast enough. Apple’s implementation is full of bugs and Google hasn’t yet shipped the latest functionality in Android.
But wait, there’s more crap in the way of getting this done. Android’s huge problem that will also slow down adoption of COVID-19 contact tracing tech, will be the massive fragmentation of the OS that has been a gigantic problem for over a decade, since Android first shipped. It’s a bug that is also a feature of Android. In that it was designed in. By architecting the Android ecosystem so that hardware manufacturers control the OS updates. Not a problem that Apple has.
US & World Health Systems & Governments Are Dropping The Ball – And It’s Criminal
Health systems and government agencies in the US and around the world are almost totally out to lunch on supporting these modern contact tracing technologies built by Apple and Google. Apple’s iOS App Store lists only 5 US states and only 16 countries that have the apps that are required for contact tracing and exposure notification to work.
States With Apps
These US states have apps in the Apple App Store as of Sunday, Sept 13.
- North Dakota
Countries with Apps
These countries, in addition to the US states above, have apps in the Apple App Store as of Sunday, Sept 13.
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
While I was tapping through all 50 US states on my iPhone, I discovered that there are 8 US states that Apple’s Settings app says have apps, but they do not exist in the App Store !!! That’s bananas, that Apple let bugs like that into their App Store and OS. It’s especially bad considering that iOS 13.7 shipped 2 weeks ago on Sept 1 – Apple & Google Will Finally Ship Automatic System for COVID-19 Contact Tracing.
Bugs: States That Report They Have an App, But Don’t
When you tap through the states in Apple’s Settings app, these states are reported by Apple to have apps, but when you tap to go to the App Store there is no app for these states. For example the screen shot to the right shows the message for Arizona. When you click on the Open App Store link, you get directed to an App Store page that lists apps by state. The same page you get sent to for states that actually do have apps.
I’ve included screen shots of the message for all of these states at the end of this article, in order to document these bugs.
- New York
- North Carolina
Apple Could Fix These Bugs Easy
I’m guessing, based on engineering best practices and the UX design of Apple’s Settings app, that it is accessing the App Store or some other Apple cloud system, to tell the Settings app when a state or country has an app. Then the user is re-redirected directly to an App Store page. If that’s all correct, then these are content and configuration bugs in Apple’s cloud systems, which means they can fix these immediately, without having to push out another iOS update. So let’s hope they get on it, like NOW.
Apple’s App Store Landing Pages
You’ll get re-directed to these App Store landing pages when you go through the Settings App. But these App Store pages are also accessible via a web browser, although keep in mind that they do not render exactly the same. Besides formatting and layout differences, there is also some incorrect content on the web version. For example the App Store Story Landing Page titled Exposure Notification Apps that lists countries, lists country names in the web version that do not have apps and no app is listed.
Apps for US States
Here is the Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 App Store Story landing page. This is the first page you’ll get re-directed to, from the Settings app once your state or country reports that an app is available.
Apps for Countries
Here is the App Store Story Landing Page titled Exposure Notification Apps that lists countries.
Here is an example of the incorrect content on the App Store Story Landing Page titled Exposure Notification Apps that lists countries. It lists country names in the web version that do not have apps and no app is listed. For example, here is the section of the webpage that displays Germany but no app.
How To Check If An App Is Available & Get It
Open the Settings app on your iPhone, then tap Exposure Notifications > Turn On Exposure Notifications. The screen below will appear.
Select Your Region
Tap Continue and this country list will display.
Tap on your country. For the US it’s easier to just use long swipe gestures with both hands to very quickly scroll down, all the way to the bottom. Then tap United States and this states list will display.
Dumb UX Design
This User eXperience (UX) design for selecting countries and states is just dumb. The whole thing is bad UX design. And it’s also bad functional design. It’s just so so bad at so many levels.
The Settings app could just use your GPS location to figure out the country and state for you and ask if that is what you want. It could also use your contact record from your contacts or your iCloud account. And it should also provide a text search field that could instantly display search results as you type, like is done all over the web and in tons of native apps.
There are just way too many taps needed to get what you want. And it’s especially bad design since the app could have used better tech to figure out what you’re likely to want.
It should remember your selection, and still allow you to search for apps in other regions. If your region does not offer an app yet, it should ask you if you want to opt in to receive a push notification when there finally is one. The indicator that an app is available is completely under Apple’s control since it’s in the App Store, so implementing a push notification is totally doable.
With how deadly and dangerous and destructive this virus is, and the amount of money that Apple makes, and how socially progressive Apple is on many issues, there is just no excuse that they can’t do better than this. And not to let Google off the hook, who, not for nothin’, also makes an outrageous amount of money too. Although I haven’t tried Google’s implementation and I won’t be, because well, Android, I’d bet green money that it’s not going to be good either.
If Your Region Does NOT Have An App
You’ll see this screen.
If Your Region Has An App
Here’s what you get if your US state has an app.
Tap Open App Store and you are re-directed to the Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 App Store Story landing page, inside of the App Store app.
Scroll down on that page and you’ll see the states that do have apps.
If you tap on Get for Virginia, for example, here’s what you see.
To see the country list below, from the Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 App Store Story landing page, tap on Find a list of all available Exposure Notification apps here.
Apple Bugs – States Incorrectly Showing They Have Apps
I’ve included screen shots in a slideshow, of the message for all of these states, in order to document these bugs. This is as of Sunday, Sept 13.
- New York
- North Carolina