The German government and medical bodies led by the Robert Koch Institute have released a free, voluntary smartphone app allowing users to gauge whether they have come into contact with someone infected with the corona virus.
“This is an important additional tool for containing the pandemic…and maintaining the progress that has been made,” said German Health Ministry Jens Spahn at the press conference launching the app.
While cautioning that the app “doesn’t replace other measures,” Spahn and the other leaders in attendance said the app would be useful in situations ranging from train travel to demonstrations to cocktail parties and restaurant visits, as Germany continues to ease its coronavirus lockdown.
The app establishes Bluetooth connections between mobile phones, warning users if they have been in close proximity for at least 15 minutes to another user who has tested positive for the coronavirus. Users are then free to decide how to react to the information.
Spahn praised the app as an example of good engineering. Initial response was overwhelmingly positive, with both medical experts and data-protection advocates praising the app. As of noon on June 16, it had been downloaded more than 100,000 times for Android devices and had received an average user review score of 4.7-4.8 on a scale of 5.