NHS test and trace app update iPhone and Android users need to know

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The Guardian reported that users who had set their phones to use languages other than the 12 languages originally supported by the app were faced with a blank screen when trying to use the app.

The NHS Covid 19 contact tracing application in England and Wales has received an update after a problem with unsupported languages caused some users to be unable to access it.

This update now appears to have gone live for some users.

Following concerns about accessibility for non-English-speaking and foreign visitors in England and Wales who want to use the contact tracing app, the Department of Health and Welfare (DHSC) announced that an update will be introduced to display the text of the app in English if their device is not set to one of the supported languages.

This included Spanish, French and Italian speakers who were told that they would need to change their device language to English to use the contact tracing software.

A DHSC spokesperson said: “The NHS Covid-19 app is currently available in a dozen languages and with over 18 million downloads to date, is helping to contain the spread of the virus.

This update now appears to have gone live for some users, as both iPhones and Android phones programmed for unsupported languages will correctly open and display app texts in English after the test.

The incident is the latest in a series of software problems that have hit the app since its launch on September 24th.

At launch, the app was made available in Arabic, Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi, simplified Mandarin Chinese, Turkish, Urdu, Romanian, Polish and Somali, as well as English and Welsh.

Earlier this month, a so-called “phantom warning”, which indicated that someone may have been exposed to the virus, caused panic and confusion among recipients, as some reported that the message would disappear if intercepted and no further information would appear in the app.

At the time, DHSC said that these were standard privacy notifications from Apple and Google – who developed the underlying technology – to warn people that the app was exchanging information with the system.

It then released an update that sent a follow-up message telling users that the exposure assessment has been completed and whether they need to take further action.

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