Brits have been left frustrated by the government’s new NHS Covid tracing app, claiming that it doesn’t work on older phone models.
Would-be users of the track and trace app discovered that the form was not compatible with iPhone 6 or older models, preventing them from downloading the service.
The app – which launched four months later than originally planned – reportedly requires iOS 13.5 or later, with those using iPhone 6 or older phones receiving an error message on attempting to download the form.
Android users, by contrast, appeared to be able to download the tracing app without issue.
Frustrated Brits took to social media to voice their frustration.
One wrote: “Would be quite happy to download the NHS track and trace app but it’s only for iOS 13.5 which isn’t available for my iPhone 5s. Wonder how many users that rules out?”
Another agreed: “Just tried to download the NHS Track and Trace app but my iPhone 6 and iOS 12 is too old. I concede I’m a bit behind but surely that is a real issue? Lots of people that don’t upgrade to the latest handsets all the time?”
While a third chimed in: “Really annoyed to discover that I can’t download the NHS Track and Trace app, as my ‘old’ iPhone 6 is excluded. Surely this is going to prevent lots of other people downloading it.”
Now a director of charity Age UK has spoken out about how the app’s technological barriers could prevent older, vulnerable people from using the service.
Charity director Caroline Abrahams said: “It’s unfortunate that you will need a relatively new smartphone to use the NHS App since many people of all ages don’t have one, older people especially.
“When you add in the very significant numbers of older people who don’t own a smartphone at all, the upshot is that the NHS App seems likely to pass much of the older population by.”
The app, which was developed by Apple and Google and road-tested on the Isle of White, uses Bluetooth technology to alert users if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.
The user will be alerted by a message, telling them to self-isolate for 14 days and to book a Covid test should they develop symptoms.
Once up and running, the app allows users to check their symptoms online and book tests if necessary, and means their own contact details will be available for tracing efforts.
Talking about the app, Baroness Harding, executive chairman of the NHS Test and Trace Programme, said: “We want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to engage with England’s NHS Test and Trace service.
“This is a welcome step in protecting those around us.”
Speaking about the possibility of a second wave earlier this week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We are at a tipping point in our efforts to control the spread of this virus.
“With infection rates rising we must use every tool at our disposal to prevent transmission, including the latest technology.
“Today’s launch marks an important step forward in our fight against this invisible killer and I urge everyone who can to download and use the app to protect themselves and their loved ones.”
With the rise in infections placing even greater pressure on the need to develop a swift and effective track and trace system, calls on the UK government to address the technological barriers of the current app are likely to continue.