A new coronavirus tracker has been found on smartphones despite owners not downloading it.
Google and Apple have automatically installed the new feature, called ‘Covi-19 Exposure Logging’, to help track the spread of the virus.
Although it has been automatically installed on most phones it is currently turned off and not available to use.
This is because it is an API and will only work in conjunction with the country’s contact-tracing app, which is still under construction.
The government has abandoned its own official app before it’s even left its testing stage despite spending millions of pounds and months on the technology.
Instead, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the NHS would use an alternative app designed by Apple and Google – which is still months away from being ready.
Mr Hancock said he was unable to put a launch date on the app but it should be available in the autumn or winter.
The app’s aim is to trace anyone that a person with coronavirus symptoms came into contact with and alert them to self-isolate.
(Image: SIPA USA/PA Images)
It’s not actually an app, it is the technology to assist a future app – the Exposure Notification API.
And even when the app is available, it won’t be mandatory to download it as the NHS has said “people will always have the choice of whether or not to download the app”.
The Exposure Notification API is automatically turned off and even after downloading the app, users can switch it off whenever they want in their phone’s settings.
iPhone users can find it in their settings.
Go to privacy, then select health and it’ll come up as the first tab.
A description underneath reads: “When enabled, iPhone can exchange random IDs with other devices using Bluetooth.
“This enables an app to notify you if you may have been exposed to Covid-19. Exposure Logging cannot access any data in, or add any data to, the Health app.”
On Android phones, the tracker is kept under ‘settings’ and then ‘google settings’.
A description on Android reads: “Your phone uses Bluetooth to securely collect and share random IDs with other phones that are nearby.
“Random IDs are automatically deleted after 14 days.
“If you have Covid-19 you can choose to share your phone’s random IDs with the app so that it can notify others anonymously.
“Device location needs to be on to detect Bluetooth devices near you. However Covid-19 exposure notifications don’t use device location.”