Alberta switching over to nationwide federal COVID Alert app

The province has yet to reveal plans about how it will adopt the app

Alberta is going to switch from its provincial ‘ABTraceTogether’ app to the nationwide federal COVID Alert app, as first reported by The Globe and Mail.

ABTraceTogether was first released in the province on May 1st, and was the first of its kind to be launched in the country. The app was based on a similar app that was created in Singapore.

It uses Bluetooth to identify other smartphones with the app installed within a two-metre radius. It encrypts that data and stores it on the users’ phone.

There were some issues with the app. For instance, it only functioned on iPhones if the app was kept open and the phone was unlocked. Last month, Alberta Premier Jason Kennedy had stated that the federal government was getting in the way of the province working with Apple and Google to fix the issues.

The federal government had outlined that this was because its nationwide app was currently being developed using Apple and Google’s Exposure Notification API. The two tech giants have limited the use of their framework to one app per country.

It’s currently unknown when or how the app will be adopted in the province, but residents will likely be required to uninstall ABTraceTogether and then be encouraged to download COVID Alert once it becomes available.

Although the app is currently being tested in Ontario, the federal government is encouraging people from other provinces to download it as well so they are ready to use it once it’s functional.

ABTraceTogether has been downloaded by 234,462 people in Alberta, which is around five percent of the province’s population. At the time of writing, more than 1.5 million Canadians have downloaded COVID Alert.

Source: The Globe and Mail