Assistance notifications make COVIDSafe easier to use

23 October 2020

The latest COVIDSafe update provides assistance notifications to help users make sure their app is running.

Since launch, the DTA - with the support of users and the tech community - has continued to make iterative enhancements to COVIDSafe, focusing on performance, privacy and accessibility.

COVIDSafe has been used to quickly find and notify close contacts who were unknown to the person who tested positive for COVID-19.   

We encourage all Australians to download, use and update the app to help fight the spread of COVID-19. COVIDSafe works best when it is active on your phone. Open your app when you are out in public or around other people.

The Australian community can have confidence that their privacy and security is protected. As we do with every release, we have made the source code available.

Update details

Assistance notifications

This release includes new notifications that will help you make sure your app is working effectively and help you to address technical issues, quickly and easily. The new notifications will alert you when your Bluetooth is turned off, or if a battery optimisation setting on your device is preventing the app from working effectively. The new notifications will guide you through a simple troubleshooting process to resolve technical issues. You will also receive a reminder to update the app when a new version is available.

Hide COVID-19 case statistics

In response to user feedback, statistics on COVID-19 cases in Australia are now available in COVIDSafe. You can access regularly updated statistics about the total number of cases across Australia, including in each state or territory. With this update, you can ‘hide’ the case statistics located on the home page, although we recommend you check the updated statistics for your area when you leave your house. As a reminder, the COVIDSafe app does not track or know your location.

Privacy updates

We have updated the Privacy Policy for COVIDSafe to advise users they will receive the new assistance notifications. You will notice a pop-up notification that informs you of this when you update the app. The COVIDSafe privacy policy is available to download in 63 languages from the COVIDSafe website.

Software development kit update - Google API 29 compatibility

COVIDSafe needs to remain compatible with Google’s app development requirements. To do this, COVIDSafe now targets a newer version of Google’s software development kit. These Android changes will bring security and performance improvements, in addition to enhancing the overall user experience. Due to this change, when you install the COVIDSafe update, you will be asked to again provide access to both Bluetooth and location permissions.

Both permissions are needed before COVIDSafe can use Bluetooth. This is an Android operating system requirement and is not unique to COVIDSafe - other Android apps that use Bluetooth will also require location permissions to be enabled. Even though location permissions are requested, COVIDSafe does not access your phone's GPS or use any other method to check and record your location.

You can find more information on why location permissions need to be granted from the COVIDSafe help topics.

COVIDSafe is a system

COVIDSafe is a combination of the COVIDSafe app that users have installed on their mobile device and the Health Portal that State and Territory health officials (contact tracers) use to identify close contacts. Improvements made to the app and Health Portal mean contact tracers are better able to establish and identify close contacts.

These improvements compensate for Bluetooth performance variabilities on mobile devices, if they occur. The Australian community can have confidence the app is working securely and effectively.

We are currently working on the next update to the COVIDSafe app.

Visit the COVIDSafe website for more information or to access the application source code.

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