Federal Government’s COVIDSafe App

The Australian Government has just released the new coronavirus app, COVIDSafe. The app is part of the Government’s work to slow the spread of COVID-19.

It is completely voluntary.

Released on Sunday 26th April, the COVIDSafe app was downloaded by more than 1.2 million people within 12 hours of its launch and has also lived up to its promise of privacy and security.

The app which is designed to compile an encrypted list of people you come within 1.5m of for 15 minutes is available now on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.

Registrations also went smoothly with no major hiccups or crashes for the million plus users who uploaded their name, mobile number, age range and postcode to take part in the contact tracing that the app enables.

What COVIDSafe is for:

The COVIDSafe app helps find close contacts of COVID-19 cases. The app helps state and territory health officials to quickly contact people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

The COVIDSafe app speeds up the current manual process of finding people who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19. This means you’ll be contacted more quickly if you are at risk. This reduces the chances of you passing on the virus to your family, friends and other people in the community.

State and territory health officials can only access app information if someone tests positive and agrees to the information in their phone being uploaded. The health officials can only use the app information to help alert those who may need to quarantine or get tested.

The COVIDSafe app is the only contact trace app approved by the Australian Government.

How COVIDSafe works:

When you download the app you provide your name, mobile number, and postcode and select your age range. You will receive a confirmation SMS text message to complete installation. The system then creates a unique encrypted reference code just for you.

COVIDSafe recognises other devices with the COVIDSafe app installed and Bluetooth enabled. When the app recognises another user, it notes the date, time, distance and duration of the contact and the other user’s reference code. The COVIDSafe app does not collect your location.

To be effective, you should have the COVIDSafe app running as you go about your daily business and come into contact with people. Users will receive daily notifications to ensure the COVIDSafe app is running.

The information is encrypted and that encrypted identifier is stored securely on your phone. Not even you can access it. The contact information stored in people’s mobiles is deleted on a 21-day rolling cycle. This period takes into account the COVID-19 incubation period and the time it takes to get tested.

When an app user tests positive for COVID-19

When someone is diagnosed with COVID-19, state and territory health officials will ask them or their parent/guardian who they have been in contact with. If they have the COVIDSafe app and provide their permission, the encrypted contact information from the app will be uploaded to a highly secure information storage system. State and territory health officials will then:

  • use the contacts captured by the app to support their usual contact tracing
  • call people to let them or their parent/guardian know they may have been exposed
  • offer advice on next steps, including:
  • what to look out for
  • when, how and where to get tested
  • what to do to protect friends and family from exposure
  • Health officials will not name the person who was infected.

After the pandemic

At the end of the Australian COVID-19 pandemic, users will be prompted to delete the COVIDSafe app from their phone. This will delete all app information on a person’s phone. The information contained in the information storage system will also be destroyed at the end of the pandemic.

Deleting the COVIDSafe app

You can delete the COVIDSafe app from your phone at any time. This will delete all COVIDSafe app information from your phone. The information in the secure information storage system will not be deleted immediately. It will be destroyed at the end of the pandemic.


Your information and privacy are strictly protected.

Read the COVIDSafe Privacy Policy for details on how personal information collected in the app is handled.

Here are some of the frequent COVIDSafe app questions answered:

I am using an older device – will it work with the COVID Safe app?

Android smartphones running Android 6 or later are fine to run the app. But older devices (five years or older) running Android 5, and which cannot be updated, unfortunately cannot run the app.

If you are using an iPhone, the COVID Safe app will work with iOS 10 or later which means it will work on the iPhone 5 or later.

If I am close to a person who doesn’t have the app – will it register within the app?

No, both devices need to have the COVID Safe app installed and running in the background on their devices.

If I am close to a person for 14 minutes and not 15 minutes will anything be registered within the app?

No, it won’t. The app needs 15 consecutive Bluetooth handshakes to be registered in the app of each person.

Do I need to be connected to the internet or the cellular network for the COVID Safe app to work?

No, you don’t. Bluetooth works between devices which means the app does not connect to the internet.

Why does the Android version of the COVID Safe app require location permission if the app is not meant to track me?

The Android app says it needs to be granted location access – which does not mean your location – to work properly. Experts have all agreed the app is private and secure and does NOT track you.

Can my phone be hacked through Bluetooth if I am running the app?

Not really – phones are near impossible to hack via Bluetooth and the person would have to be within 10m of you for quite a while before they could even begin. You’re more at risk through wi-fi network or the cellular network which is why you should some protection on your smartphone.

Does the app need to be running in the background?

Yes, it does. If you are clearing and stopping apps to free up more memory on your phone, then do it one app at a time rather than all at once because that will shut the COVID Safe app.

Can I still listen to my headphones through Bluetooth if I am running the COVID Safe app?

Yes, you can. Your smartphone can handle several Bluetooth connections at the same time so you can keep listening to your headphones and keep your smartwatches, trackers and car connections active.

Will having Bluetooth on all the time run down my smartphone’s battery?

Not really. We already use Bluetooth quite a bit when connecting to headphones, wearable and our cars. It is a low energy connection and the COVID Safe app using Bluetooth should not have much impact on your battery.

Does the COVID Safe app use much data?

The app will use less than 1MB of data a day which includes the data you send or receive from another COVID Safe app if you are together for 15 minutes or longer.

How well can Bluetooth measure 1.5m?

Bluetooth can measure short distances up to 2m and then can detect up to 10m and further. And it does depend on now close the other device is and signal strength. Another minor variable is how well an Android phone can react to an iPhone and vice versa. We suspect an Android to Android and iPhone to iPhone handshake with this app would be stronger.

Is the app really going to respect my privacy?

Yes, it is. The government has legislated a change to the Biosecurity Act that will prohibit access to the data generated by the app outside the relevant state and territory health officials who have been authorised by the user to access the data base.

How long will the app hold the data it collects?

The app will delete the data after 21 days.

Can I see the contact data collected by the app?

No, you can’t. The data within the app is encrypted and stored securely on your device.

Will my name and number be set to another device if I am in contact for 15 minutes or longer?

No – the device name is not broadcast – just a Bluetooth address that’s then encrypted.

Can I use a fake name when I register with the COVIDSafe app?

Yes, you can but you cannot use a fake number because it needs this number to verify your registration.

You can download and review more information about the COVIDSafe app for Android and iPhone here.