Government launches beta test program for COVID-19 exposure notification app

The entire beta testing process will take between two to four days

The federal government has launched a beta test program for its upcoming voluntary nationwide COVID-19 exposure notification app.

“This app is now in its Beta phase and we need your help to test it. Beta phase means the software is built, but we need people (like you!) to test the app and ensure it’s working smoothly,” the beta program reads.

Participants have to be residing in Canada and be over the age of 18. Once you sign-up for the program, you will receive detailed instructions about how to download the app to your phone. Then you will be asked to complete a task using the app, and provide feedback on your experience.

The government notes that the entire process will take between two to four days. Participants can stop at any time for any reason.

“By participating in this research you consent that your email address, preferred language, experience using the app, and brand or type of smartphone device and related details that you provide will be collected,” the beta program sign-up page notes.

Participants’ email addresses will be shared with Apple or Google as part of their beta testing program. The government outlines that your participation and answers will not affect your access to Government of Canada services or benefits.

CDS and Health Canada may collect participants’ personal information such as their email, and experience using the app. They may also publish or share with other government institutions a summary of what they learned from the research, including quotes or narratives, without associating them to an email.

“Your feedback will help us know if the app is working as intended and where we might improve it. Notifications sent during this study will not be real. This is simply a test of COVID Alert.”

The app uses Apple and Google’s notification API, which uses Bluetooth technology to share randomized codes with other nearby smartphones, which can’t identify users. Apple and Google’s API is being used in several countries, including Australia, Denmark, Germany, Italy and the U.K.

You can learn more about the beta test program and sign-up for it, if you choose to, here.

Update 24/07/20: Sign-ups for the beta testing program are now closed. Further, the government has clarified that COVID Alert is not a contact tracing app, and is an exposure notification app intended to help Canadians understand when they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.