German government releases open source corona app

The first version of the German corona app has been available to download since Monday. The application uses the api from Google and Apple, and is further based on the DP-3T protocol for bluetooth contact tracing. Only Germans can download the app.

The Corona Warn App is available in the Play Store and the App Store, although they can only be downloaded by German users. It is a contact tracing app designed by the German government. The source code of the app is publicly available on GitHub. The app is not mandatory, not even for entering companies or shops. The Android version has been downloaded more than a million times, which can be seen in the Play Store.

Users indicate in the app whether they have symptoms of the coronavirus. If the phone is in close proximity to someone who has reported symptoms for an extended period of time, the user will receive a warning. The app is used to support the contact investigation of the German health authorities.

The application uses the api from Google and Apple. The tech companies designed an API that national or regional health organizations can use. This is especially necessary for iOS devices; on the operating system, bluetooth does not work in the background.

Data from the app is not stored centrally, but remains on the user’s device. The app is based on the DP-3T protocol, of which the SDK now uses the Google and Apple API. With DP-3T, a new temporary key is created every 24 hours. Based on this, bursts of sixteen identifiers are generated every two and a half to five minutes, which are broadcast via Bluetooth low energy.

Initially, the app would already be released in April. However, then the data was stored centrally, which was criticized a lot. The German app was designed by development company SAP and Deutsche Telekom. In total, the development cost 20 million euros.

The app was presented on Tuesday morning. Germany advertises the app via billboards, in the media and via the national football association. It will probably only be successful if many people install it. In previous studies, a figure of sixty percent was often mentioned. That part of the population would have to install the app for it to be a success.

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