The government’s new coronavirus tracking app, COVIDSafe, is getting hammered with one-star reviews, with users complaining that they can’t even sign up ahead of its official launch on Sunday night.
Designed to stay open all the time, the app uses Bluetooth to keep track of who you’ve come into contact with. If someone is confirmed to be infected with COVID-19, the app is then used to notify everyone who they might have passed it on to.
But within hours of going live on the Google Play Store, the app racked up a tonne of scathing, one-star reviews.
“After all the hype about the importance of this app, I can’t believe they put out something that doesn’t work,” wrote one user.
“If the government wants a large amount of people to cooperate and use this app it will not help if we encounter these kind of frustrations,” commented another.
After providing their name and date-of-birth, the vast majority of reviewers claimed they cannot submit their mobile number to receive a secure PIN and logon to COVIDSafe.
One reviewer even made reference to the government’s past tech fuckups, including the Centrelink robodebt scandal and 2016’s #CensusFail.
“Who ever tested this should be fired. Government software projects never cease to amaze,” they wrote.
The error message given by the app is simply: “invalid phone number”.
Most of the handful of reviews which were higher than one-star said their ratings were simply “to help to promote the app”, despite the fact they themselves could not get into it.
What a fail. Covidsafe app. pic.twitter.com/zQbbmQ4il3
— Mary Garden (@marygarden) April 26, 2020
The app appeared on the Google Play Store hours ahead of its official launch on Sunday night. Health Minister Greg Hunt said registration will be open from 6 PM.
The is not the first controversy to surround the app, as privacy concerns have been raised since its inception. After umming and ahing, the government finally came out to say the app would not be mandatory.
Even politicians from across the political divide have slammed the app for privacy concerns, including Barnaby Joyce and Kristina Kenneally.
A number of other governments around the world have already introduced similar contact-tracing apps during the coronavirus pandemic, including India, Singapore, Norway and Israel.