Google has rolled out a fix for a COVID-19 tracking app loading issue

All Android apps that use Google's exposure notification system were affected.

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The CA COVID Notify mobile app, an exposure notification app launched by California officials for tracing during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, is seen on an Android phone in a photo illustration in Oakland, California, U.S. November 18, 2020. Picture taken November 18, 2020. REUTERS/Paresh Dave
Paresh Dave / reuters

Google has rolled out a fix for a loading issue that impacted apps using the Android Exposure Notifications System. Those Android apps, which track the spread of COVID-19 via Bluetooth, took longer to load or to carry out regular exposure checks. The issue impacted all apps that use the system worldwide, according to The Verge, including the NHS COVID-19 app in England and Wales.

“We have issued a fix,” a Google spokesperson told Engadget. “It may take a few hours for devices to catch up, and in some cases we will work directly with developers to help with recovery. The issue did not cause the loss of any data or potential exposures.”

The problem, which concerned signature key configuration, emerged late Tuesday evening. The apps had an issue downloading diagnosis keys from servers. Some of them displayed a loading screen notification that users weren’t able to dismiss by swiping away. Rebooting the device might get rid of it, but you shouldn’t clear storage in the app. That won’t resolve the issue and it may cause the loss of data and possible exposure matches.

The apps continued to collect keys (which are used for contact tracing) and to track potential exposures while the issue remained active. Google engineers will work with app developers to fix any lingering problems as soon as possible.

Google collaborated with Apple on a contact tracing system, which they released to public health agencies last May. However, it doesn’t seem that the issue has affected iOS exposure notification apps.

Update 1/13 2:45 ET: Updated to note that Google has issued a fix.

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