Better notifications, privacy, and performance for COVIDSafe

5 August 2020

Today’s update to COVIDSafe provides WCAG 2.1 Level AA accessibility compliance and improves Bluetooth reliability and privacy on iOS and Android devices.

COVIDSafe was designed and launched during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in Australia. Since then, the DTA – with the support of users and the tech community – has made iterative enhancements to the app focusing on performance, privacy and accessibility.

COVIDSafe is an important tool that supports the meticulous and dedicated work of Australia’s manual contact tracers. It has been used to find and notify close contacts that were unknown to the person who tested positive. We strongly encourage all Australians using the app to update it and benefit from the latest changes.

Today, we have achieved an accessibility milestone. The app is now Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Level AA compliant.

This update also results in strengthened Bluetooth reliability and further privacy enhancements.

Update details

Enhanced accessibility

Improving the accessibility of COVIDSafe remains a priority. We are pleased to announce the app has now achieved compliance with WCAG 2.1 Level AA.

Previously, users needed to change the language of their device to view COVIDSafe in one of the translated languages (Arabic, Cantonese, Greek, Italian, Korean, Mandarin and Vietnamese).

With this release, users will be able to select the language they would like to view from within the app itself.

Improved notifications

This release includes a new notification service that will help users make sure the app is working effectively.

The app will now advise users when there is a new version of the app and prompt them to update. When users are on the latest version of the app they benefit from the latest improvements.

Bluetooth reliability and privacy improvements

We have again strengthened the effectiveness of the app, working with the technology community on several fixes.

We would like to thank the members of the tech community, including software developers and researchers, who have worked with us to refine a Bluetooth connection issue within the app.

Today’s release increases the validity period for the unique encrypted reference codes for the app to make encounter logging more reliable on each phone.

We have further improved security measures for Android users who change the name of their device, which is visible in Bluetooth pairing, to enhance their privacy.

Source code update and next release

We have updated the publicly available application source code in line with today’s release. To make sure we can continue to engage with the technology community, the community can provide direct feedback within the source code repository.

We are currently working on the next update to the COVIDSafe app, which we plan to release in a couple of weeks.

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

For media enquiries email us at media@dta.gov.au or call 0438 156 883

For other enquiries email us at info@dta.gov.au