The Government of India had earlier released the Aarogya Setu app for contact tracing of people who may have been infected with COVID-19, however, the app is currently available only for smartphones. The IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has now announced that a version of the app is also being developed for feature phones.
The Aargoya Setup app was released on Android and iOS in order to alert a user if he/she has come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The only problem with this approach was that it relied on the user owning a smartphone for the app to work. However, given the massive rural population in India, and the fact that we still have a major chunk of the population using feature phones, the lack of an app for them was a major hole in the strategy of combating the Coronavirus.
According to Business Standard, the Minister had tweeted that, "Every state highly appreciated the #AarogyaSetu app and shared their thoughts on it. I have assured them that a similar solution for feature phones is being developed and will be launched very soon," which confirms that a feature phone version of the app is in development. The publication further reports that the app will work on JioPhone, which itself runs on KaiOS.
Contact tracing is one essential method of curtailing the spread of Coronavirus. People may not even know they’ve been exposed to someone who has been tested positive for the COVID-19 infection. Apple and Google too came together for their own API for contact tracing, one that has stirred up plenty of controversy and concern. However, Germany recently announced that they will be using the tech giants’ API instead of developing their own app.
When the Aarogya Setup app had initially launched, there was some scepticism around the kind of information the app would collect from users’ devices. The government at the time had stated that the app would share the data only with the government, and would not make any user’s name or phone number available to third parties. The app, since its launch, has not sen any major privacy related controversy either.