The debate between centralised and decentralised models of coronavirus track and trace apps, centring on which is more beneficial to a society, has overshadowed the real issue at hand in tracing COVID-19, whether or not the apps actually work. Pinning the hopes of accurate viral tracing on untested apps may have been naïve or just a gamble, especially for the many countries seemingly unwilling to conduct traditional viral tracing methods. While adequate viral tracing is important to understand the spread of the disease, it will be no means curb it directly, and countries should really focus on more direct methods such as mask distribution and education first.
Centralised and decentralised tracing apps alike have had issues with bluetooth technology, and with whether the tracing apps are able to accurately work in the background while the user is either using other apps or has their phone on standby. Likewise there is the complex battery issue, with certain apps not able to work in the background and thus draining a phones battery much faster, or in some other cases apps send too many pings (messages) to other devices also draining the users battery. On top of this there is the massive issue of user error, as these apps depend on adequate user charging and basic understanding of how the app works in order to even function. Not to mention the most glaring issue, that for any of these apps to work around 60% of the population, that’s around 80% of smartphone users, need to sign themselves up for being traced, and with trust in governments and tech companies being fairly low this is no easy feat.