It's finally here! The COVID Alert app Canada has created is now available for download across the country. Right now, only one province will get exposure notifications but officials want everyone to have the app on their phones.
COVID Alert has now officially launched and everyone can download it from the App Store or Google Play.
While it was first announced as a contact tracing app, that's no longer what it's for.
It's an exposure notification app that lets you know when you've come into close contact in the last 14 days with someone who tested positive who also has the app.
Close contact is when you're within two metres of someone for at least 15 minutes.
It uses Bluetooth signals and exchanges random codes with nearby phones that are changed every five minutes.
If you're worried about privacy, Health Canada officials told Narcity that the app has no way of knowing your location, name or address.
Using this app is completely voluntary, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had previously said that it will be more effective if more people use it.
Currently, exposure notifications will only go out to people in Ontario but the government is in talks with other provinces and territories, specifically B.C. and New Brunswick, to roll this out nationwide.
That could happen in the coming days.
Here's how the app works once you download it: when you enter, you'll be told about why it was put into place and what it aims to do.
"The app can let people know of possible exposures before any symptoms appear," it says.
You'll also be told about how your privacy is protected.
For the app to work, you have to give it permission to log random codes when you're near other phones and to send you notifications.
You can also put in which province or territory you live in.
Then you're all set!
If you live outside of Ontario, you'll be notified once people in your area can start reporting a positive test through COVID Alert.
Anybody who tests positive will be given a one-time key to enter into the app.
You have to allow it to share that code with other phones. If you don't, nobody will be notified.
Once that's done, you'll be asked to share a new random code every day for the next 13 days.
All of this is completely voluntary.
If you enter a key and allow the app to share your random code, nobody will get any information about you.
People's phones will simply get a notification that they've been in close contact with someone who tested positive.
For anyone who gets an exposure notification, COVID Alert will give you information from your local public health authority on the steps to take to stay safe.