Google fixes issue affecting its COVID-19 Exposure Notifications System

The tech giant says it may take a few hours for devices to catch up to the fix

Google has issued a fix for a problem affecting apps using its Exposure Notifications System, which includes Canada’s COVID Alert app.

The issue appeared to delay the ability of these apps to load or conduct regular exposure checks. It’s worth noting that the issue only affected the Android versions of exposure notifications apps that use Google’s framework.

Although Google notes that the issue impacted all the apps using its framework, a spokesperson from the Canadian Digital Service told MobileSyrup in an email that “as of 12:30 pm today, our support channels haven’t received any feedback from users of COVID Alert experiencing issues.”

“It’s important to note our expectation, based on available information, that even if delayed, the app will automatically check for any exposures once the update reaches the Android devices and communicate those notifications the usual way,” the spokesperson noted.

Further, a spokesperson from Google told MobileSyrup that the issue began late in the evening on January 12th and caused “delays in the checking of potential exposures for those with apps installed.”

“We have issued a fix. It may take a few hours for devices to catch up, and in some cases we will work directly with developers to help with recovery. The issue did not cause the loss of any data or potential exposures.”

Google notes that the apps continued to collect keys and potential exposures throughout the duration of the issue, and notifications that have been delayed today will resume.

The delay was due to a problem with signature key configuration, as the apps had an issue downloading diagnosis keys from their key servers. Google notes that for most apps, this was not visible but that in some cases, apps displayed persistent loading screens that couldn’t be swiped away.

Google is urging users not to clear storage in their exposure notification app, as some have suggested. This won’t fix the issue and could instead cause loss of data from the interim period.