back to article NHS COVID-19 app is trying to tell Android users something but buggy notification appears stuck on 'Loading...' screen

NHS England's COVID-19 app developed a case of the borks overnight as Android users were presented with mystery notifications that never seemed to finish loading. The app had a troubled start in life last year as homegrown efforts initially foundered before a second crack at contact chasing emerged towards the end of summer. A …

  1. wiggers

    "There is the danger that some might deal with the notification problem by simply deleting the app,"

    That's what my partner did!

    1. Natalie Gritpants Jr Silver badge

      They might as well have not ever installed the app then if the first sign of unexpectedness causes them to uninstall.

    2. ovation1357 Bronze badge

      Me too. My battery was draining way quicker than usual, notification wouldn't go away until I did a force stop - was back again a bit later so I just uninstalled it.

      To be frank I have very little faith that the Bluetooth technique being used stands very much chance of accurately determining if I've been at risk of exposure anyway. Neither does the venue check in but no check out fill me with much confidence.

      Next time I go to a venue and they ask me to check in with the app (or if I have to go to a crowded place/office) then out of respect for others I will reinstall it and do that despite my personal beliefs about the efficacy of this thing.

      But for now I'm enjoying a longer battery life whilst I'm stuck at home going nowhere

      1. Gordon 11

        Neither does the venue check in but no check out fill me with much confidence
        I've always been able to check out of a venue once I've checked in.

        1. scrubber

          Hotel California

          You can check in any time you like, but you can never leave

      2. goldcd

        I'd always assumed

        (and we know what assumption is) that the 'check-in' feature was just to provide a degree of partitioning between bluetooth signals.

        i.e. If you check into your barber, you can probably pick up BT from the cafe next door.

        If somebody later tests positive who'd checked into the cafe, you wouldn't get an alert. If the person in the cafe hadn't checked in in, or had and you hadn't - then you would - as app doesn't know you were close, but in separate shops

        Checkout time isn't too important, as the proximity covers that.

  2. LosD

    Not only UK. I'm sitting with the exact same issue for the Danish Covid-19 app.

  3. David Gosnell

    Google Play Services

    So it's looking most likely that it's a change in Google Play Services, given that there was an update to that overnight. Now, what's the betting that Google forewarned NHSx (and Denmark's equivalent, based on LosD's comment) but no-one took any action?

    For now, the message has gone from my phone without any intervention, but the Google back-end confirms there have been no syncs since yesterday evening so the lack of any further messages is only a placebo of workingness.

    1. MatthewSt

      Re: Google Play Services

      The message had gone from mine too, but I opened the app and it's back. It must just get unloaded after a while.

      1. David Gosnell

        Re: Google Play Services

        Just did a kill and restart on the app, and finally got an exposure check logged in the Google back-end at 13:55. So might now be working.

        1. Michael B.

          Re: Google Play Services

          Out of interest where do you find that exposure check logged?

          1. Steve Kerr

            Re: Google Play Services

            I think for the NHS App (on Android) it's under

            -> About this App

            -> Down to About your data

            -> Manage my data

            That lists where you've been and flags up any stuff.

            Don't think you access the data directly from the android settings, only delete it.

            1. Richard Jones 1

              Re: Google Play Services

              Thank you, Steve, I had a look at 'My Data' as suggested, but it had no data except my home post code. This was not a surprise as it has never pinged up anything, and I have not been anywhere requiring or even provided with, a check in QR code. Does the software require a specific manual intervention every time you enter or leave a location? My mobile lives in a shirt pocket and at this time of year is buried beneath clothing. It takes an impractically long time to dig the darned thing out. Perhaps I misunderstood that this was an automated system, not a quill pen era throwback, did the OS makers really make it so useless?

          2. David Gosnell

            Re: Google Play Services

            It's in the phone settings, not the app. Go to Settings, Google, Covid-19 Exposure Notifications, top right menu, Exposure checks and authenticate. Click on a time for the details, such as they are.

            The app itself I think only logs the QR check-ins.

            1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

              Re: Google Play Services

              Just looked on my phone and I hadn't had an exposure check since late on the 7th! After disabling and re-enabling background notifications, force stopping the app and restarting it, I finally got an update.

        2. BenM 29

          Re: Google Play Services

          >>So might now be working.

          Just Force Stopped + Restarted the App (not the phone) and still got the loading notification... so I guess it's workig about as well as can be expected.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Google Play Services

      Now, what's the betting that Google forewarned NHSx (and Denmark's equivalent, based on LosD's comment) but no-one took any action?

      Move fast and break things vs. government IT. What could possibly go wrong?

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: Google Play Services

        Well that would be "move fast and break things" vs. "move very slowly and never get things working in the first place". Not sure why anyone thought combining the two would end well.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google Play Services

      Now, what's the betting that Google could not be rsed to tell anyone they were making some fundamantal changes to parts of their system so broke lots of apps. Dead cert for that one.

    4. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: what's the betting that Google forewarned NHSx

      Any evidence of that warning or were you just worried someone might blame Google for releasing a breaking change?

  4. Stuclark

    Not a new notification

    It used to pop up this loading... crap at about midnight every night on my OnePlus device.

    ... that is, it kept doing it until I uninstalled the app!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not a new notification

      because it was loading updates.. sigh.

  5. AlanSh

    Force stop worked for me

    Mine started after the latest android update this morning.

    I did a force stop and restarted the app- the loading came up for about 5 seconds and then went away.

    Running Android 11 on a OnePlus 8.

    Alan

  6. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  7. TimMaher Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Dildo Harding

    Where is she when you need her?

    1. Kane Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Dildo Harding

      Twat!

      I was doing so well...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spoiler alert!

    The message indicates we will be entering level 5 lockdown.

    You must not leave your bedroom except to go to the WC or eat but you must complete these tasks within 15 minutes before returning to your bedroom.

    The armed services will be deployed to patrol houses and confirm all households are complying. They will be issued with stopwatches for ad hoc checks where necessary.

    In the event of any violations, offenders will be shot. Survivors will be shot again.

    This is expected to quickly reduce the number of patients dying of COVID-19.

    Message ends.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Spoiler alert!

      Seems some people have entered level 5 deadpan humour bypass.

  9. JimPoak
    Holmes

    Solution.

    Intelligent solution. I went back to my old Windows phone, no problem. I knew there was good reason to keep it.

    1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

      Re: Solution.

      I just carry on using my Nokia. Makes life much more peaceful.

  10. Lon24 Silver badge

    Forgotten Orphan

    I remember this app. Prematurely launched with great fanfare and the real working one with none. Now forgotten by the PM who has moved on to extolling his next 'not quite there' covid-killer and infant.

    Reminded every time I saw a "Get ready for Brexit" ad on telly. As if no one knew or believed the information they needed was available in good time (or any time). Why no similar big campaign for this rather more important app if you think living or not killing is a good idea? My son-in-law got an overnight alert and is know self-isolating. He uses an iPhone so it worked there.

    Come on, give it some love.

  11. Mike McC

    German Corona-Warn-App also hit by Google Exposure Notification System problem - working again now

    The German Corona-Warn-App (https://www.coronawarn.app/en/) was also affected until yesterday evening (Jan 13, 2021) as was reported by various users in https://github.com/corona-warn-app/cwa-app-android/issues/2081, including comments that Denmark and Norway were also affected.

    There is a copy of a detailed Google statement in that thread https://github.com/corona-warn-app/cwa-app-android/issues/2081#issuecomment-759964666

    Short version said:

    We are aware of an issue with the provideDiagnosisKeys() method of the Exposure Notifications API which affects all apps using the API. The issue became widespread around 12 Jan 22:00 UTC, and it causes the provideDiagnosisKeys() to appear to hang.

    We have determined the root cause, and a fix is already rolling out to users’ devices. Once the fix is installed in the device, calls to provideDiagnosisKeys() will have the expected behavior again. The rollout of the fix will reach over 90% of your users within 24 hrs.

    Since last night I'm no longer seeing any error on my mobile phone.

  12. Whiskers

    Integration with new asymptomatic testing service?

    I had wondered if there was an update being installed, to take account of the new 'community' testing services being set up by local authorities <https://www.gov.uk/government/news/asymptomatic-testing-to-be-rolled-out-across-the-country-starting-this-week> but I can't see anything about that in the app.

    Is there any integration between the NHS Covid-19 app and these new tests? I had one the other day and got a negative result (Phew!) but there doesn't seem to be any way to log this in the app - unlike the tests for people with suspected symptoms that have been available by appointment for some months, for which the result notification includes a code number to be entered into the app. (The community testing centre didn't even have an NHS Covid-19 QR login code available).

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Being in the NHS

    I will stick something up my nose every few days. You may hope I am doing a Lateral Flow Test but I am just reliving being 5!

    1. Whiskers

      Re: Being in the NHS

      'snuff o' that!

  14. gobaskof Silver badge
    Flame

    Entrusting our lives to out of date phones, and putrid politicians.

    I decided to check my phone and realised contact tracing has been turned off. Who knows how that happened. Upon turning it on my entire phone froze and needed rebooting. I suppose I cannot blame the app for that, an app should not be able to crash the OS. If only I was not stuck on Android 7.0, I am not throwing away a functioning phone because no manufacturer will update it.

  15. MortimerTheCat

    I deleted the app to get rid of the notification. To be honest, I wasn't even sure that the app was still in general use, I have not heard it mentioned on the news for months.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021