How Smartphone Apps are Changing Lives during COVID Pandemic?

Smartphone applications are playing a major role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nobody knew before that these apps could become a precursor in tracking infected people, track their movement, issue health guidelines, and provide the latest communication regarding safety.

It’s easy to harvest the smartphone technology to curb COVID-19 mainly because many people today own a smartphone and have access to the internet. Not only has it helped to track the infected people but it has also come to the rescue in diagnosing those affected, identifying hotspots, and getting real-time updates.

As reported by AppAnnie,

Daily time spent in apps on Android devices increased 20% year-over-year in Q1 2020, while consumer spending in both iOS and Android apps was also up 15% and 5% respectively, setting a new record for in-app spending for a single quarter at $23.4 billion worldwide.

Other than helping in response to COVID-19 Pandemic, smartphone apps came as a savior to people bored inside their home. The time spent on gaming apps has sharply risen since the beginning of lockdown. More people have subscribed to entertainment apps like Netflix and Amazon Stream. It may come as a surprise, but more people are using dating apps like Tinder to find an online date.

Here is how smartphone apps have changed the scenario of the pandemic.

How are COVID-19 Apps helping in curbing the pandemic?

COVID-19 apps are smartphone applications designed to aid contact tracing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has eased the process of identifying persons ("contacts") who may have been in contact with an infected individual.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, numerous applications have been developed with official government support in some jurisdictions. Several frameworks for building contact tracing apps have been developed. Although privacy concerns have been raised, especially about systems that are based on tracking the geographical location of app users, the apps are still in extensive use.

Some of the most popular COVID-19 apps are as follows:

A. TraceTogether

TraceTogether is a popular smartphone app is used inside Singapore. Anyone with a legit Singapore mobile number can download the app. It is a contact tracing app that uses Bluetooth to track infected people and notify those who were in close proximity to them during the past 15 days.

As privacy is a major concern for the users, the app developers ensure that the app doesn’t collect data about GPS location or WiFI/mobile network.  When two people using the app are close to each other, both phones will use Bluetooth to exchange a Temporary ID. This Temporary ID is generated by encrypting the User ID with a private key held by the Ministry of Health (MOH). It can only be decrypted by MOH and does not reveal the identity of the user.

B. CovidWatch

CovidWatch is another contact tracing app developed in collaboration with Stanford University. This has helped track the infected person without the need of surrendering their privacy. It uses Bluetooth to detect users when they are in close proximity to each other and alerts them anonymously if they were in contact with someone who has tested positive.

It has been among the first apps to release an open-source protocol for privacy-preserving, decentralized Bluetooth contact tracing.

C. HaMagen

HaMagen is a contract tracing app launched by the Health Ministry of Israel. The app uses contact tracing to contain the contagion. The app allows smartphone users to know if they have close or exposed to the infected person in the past 15 days. The app uses GPS to track the movement and location of the user and the information fetched is compared with the ministry data on the whereabouts of those who have been diagnosed.

If it transpires that a particular user was indeed in proximity with an infected person, the app redirects the person to the health ministry website where he can register for self-quarantine.

D. The Corona DataSpende

It is the German smartwatch app that monitors the spread of coronavirus by collecting crucial signs – pulse rate, body temperature, and sleep patterns – from volunteers wearing a smartwatch or a fitness tracker.

Unlike the contact tracing app, it checks whether the user has developed any Covid-19 symptoms or not. The results are then portrayed on an online interactive map that makes it possible for health authorities to take stock of the situation and find out the hotspots.

E. Aarogya Setu

Aarogya Setu is a contact tracing app developed by the Indian Ministry of Electronics. Within the thirteen days of its launch, it has been downloaded more than 50 million times and has become the most downloaded app in the world to track Covid-19.

The app notifies users if they have crossed paths with someone who has been diagnosed positive. Tracking is done via Bluetooth and a location-generated graph that charts proximity with anyone infected.

The app also has a self-testing function. A user has to answer a few questions, and if the responses indicate symptoms of coronavirus then the information is sent to the government servers. The app also provides self-quarantine instructions. Aarogya Setu is available in 11 languages on both Android and iOS platforms.

F. COVID Symptom Tracker

This app built by doctors and researchers at the King’s College London and St. Thomas hospital, in partnership with a private healthcare company called Zoe Global, studies the symptoms of the virus for advanced research and also helps track how it spreads.

The scientists have been analyzing high-risk areas in the UK, speed of virus spread, and the most vulnerable group, based on health conditions.

G. NHS smartphone app

NHS smartphone app is a contact tracing app currently being developed by the National Health Service in England. British health secretary Matt Hannock has urged the public to download the app once it’s available. The app would keep a tab on the user’s movements and notify those who come in close proximity to the infected individuals. The experts believe that the app will categorize details based on demography, household structures, and mobility patterns, and based on this; a maximum number of people would be allowed to move freely.

What are the most used smartphone apps during Self-quarantine?

Since the lockdown was put in place, there has been a massive hike in the download of Smartphone apps.

According to Statista.com, these are the most downloaded apps around the world.

Most Downloaded App

Plato

201,800

ZOOM Cloud Meetings

166.,300

Houseparty

106,500

Tiktok

93,000

Skype

66,300

Discord

65,500

Park Master

60,700

WhatsApp

56,600

UNO!

53,400

Brain Out

44,600

 

More people are spending time on entertainment apps like TikTok and Netflix. While many people are working from home, it has given a sharp rise to ZOOM and Houseparty.

 

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