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Covid Tracker app battery drain problem to be fixed, HSE promises

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Health Minister Stephen Donnelly with the official Health Service Executive Covid Tracker contact tracing app (Niall Carson/PA)

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly with the official Health Service Executive Covid Tracker contact tracing app (Niall Carson/PA)

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly with the official Health Service Executive Covid Tracker contact tracing app (Niall Carson/PA)

Irish smartphone users who have seen their batteries drain unusually quickly after downloading the Covid Tracker Ireland app have been promised that that the issue will be resolved today.

Some users of Android smartphones, covering brands such as Samsung, Huawei, Sony and OnePlus, have been complaining of abnormal battery life depletion over the last 24 hours with their phones indicating the Covid Tracker app as the culprit.

In separate statements, the HSE and Nearform — the Irish app’s development firm — have said that the issue is set to be fixed imminently.

“Sorry to anyone that has had issues with the app this weekend,” said the HSE in a statement. “We have identified the problem that some users with Android phones are experiencing. Google are working with us to fix it as soon as possible.”

There have been no reports of the issue affecting iPhone users.

Yesterday, the HSE claimed that the problem was triggered by an update to Google Play Services leading to a change in behaviour in the app’s Exposure Notification System. However, Google has not recently updated Google Play Services. Nevertheless, both the HSE and Google say that the issue should be gone by this evening.

Google and Apple are the main architects of the underlying technology behind the Covid Tracker app. The joint effort by the two tech giants was designed partially to minimise the impact on battery life from the app, which works in the background, even when the phone is locked or sleeping.

Typically, the app can use around 5pc of a smartphone’s daily battery reserve.

But over the weekend, social media platforms such as Twitter and Reddit saw dozens of people complaining that their Android handsets were sapped of power within hours due to errant behaviour from the Covid Tracker app.

Almost 1.5m Irish people have downloaded the app, according to the HSE, with over 100 contact tracing connections made since its launch.

Online Editors