Australian government admits its COVIDSafe app doesn't work on iOS

Covid Safe Australia
Covid Safe Australia (Image credit:

What you need to know

  • The Australian government has admitted that its COVIDSafe app will not work without Apple and Google's framework on iOS.
  • Despite facts and logic, the Australian government repeatedly claimed the app would work.
  • The country is now planning to update the app, integrating Apple and Google's framework.

Australia's head of the Digital Transformation Agency has admitted that its COVIDSafe app doesn't work without Apple and Google on iOS, and says they are planning to integrate the framework into its app.

As reported by The Guardian:

More than 5.1 million Australians have downloaded and registered to use the app on iPhone and Android devices, and, while the Android version works while running in the background (ie, not open on the screen), the iPhone version works best when the app is open on the screen and the phone is unlocked.

Randall Brugeaud told a Senate committee that whilst the iPhone version of the app worked in the foreground, it did not when the app was closed or the phone was locked:

"What we can say is the quality of the Bluetooth connectivity for phones that have the app installed running in the foreground is very good.And it progressively deteriorates and the quality of the connection is not as good as you get to a point where the phone is locked in the app is running in the background."

It was made abundantly clear that apps which did not use Apple and Google's contact tracing technology would not function on iOS, because Apple has strict rules on how apps can use Bluetooth technology whilst running in the background.

As the report notes, Australia's government insisted the app would function, on Monday Stuart Robert, government services minster stated:

"The app runs either in the foreground or background"

It seems the government now plans to update its app in the next few weeks, incorporating Apple and Google's framework so as to rectify the issue. No doubt, if the UK does not take heed of Australia's learning experience, and identical story regarding the UK's NHS COVID-19 app will also be making the rounds in the coming weeks.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9