Taiwan launches social distancing app

Apparently the latest cluster has prompted the authorities to launch a contract tracing app which seems to be built upon Apple and Google’s framework for contract tracing using Bluetooth.

Chinese only, but the UI is really simple (just need to install and press one button to activate).

Let’s see if this app will become mandatory in the future when visiting certain public places.


Just filed a report with Apple because the language description in the US App Store is wrong.

I’m guessing we’ll have to wait until COVID-30 in 2030, when Taiwan becomes spontaneously bilingual, for the English version?


Sounds like there is some sort of bluetooth phone to phone logic in there, such that it requires all parties, the whole population I suppose, to have it installed?

Yes, if someone gets infected, the app is only useful to help with contract tracing if that person had it installed too.

The COVID-app in Germany uses the same framework (which allows anonymous contract tracing without storing location information). However, many people distrust the promise of anonymity and prefer not to use the app. Instead, the common way of contract tracing has been pen-and-paper based requiring people to write down their name and contact information. For some reason, people believe that app based solutions are inherently unsafe while “offline” measures are more secure even if they’re not anonymous.

Still curious how people in Taiwan will think about this app and if people will actually start using it.

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The Canadian app had almost no uptake due to privacy concerns and also the fact the app sucked. Not sure if they can make an app mandatory since not everyone has a smartphone or even a phone for that matter. Just asking for contact info at entrances should be good enough

Or just wait till Apple does its job they way they used to. Enforce quality and remove any apps whose description is outright fraudulent and force devs to stick to guidelines.

  • 2.4.5 Apps distributed via the App Store have some additional requirements to keep in mind:

    • (ix) Apps must contain all language and localization support in a single app bundle.

I’m not sure I’m following. All that this means is that apps that provide support for different languages/regions should include that support in a single app, rather than having separate Chinese, English, Japanese (etc) apps. It doesn’t mean they have to provide support for English. Are you saying there exists a separate English version?

Right. But then don’t say your app is in English when it isn’t.

See the app description in the App Store.

These initiatives are either made compulsory for the whole population, which I doubt is doable (China and North Korea apart), or they are useless. I remember a similar app being launched in Singapore one year ago, which was a failure. Eventually, the government made it compulsory for all business activities to show a QR code at the entrance and exit that visitors had to scan. Annoying but it worked, I recall. And I am notoriously not a fan of how Singapore handled COVID (masks useless → recommended → compulsory) in the first months after being called the “Gold Standard”.

When you say “had to scan”, was it enforced in any way? I can see impatient people here skipping doing it. Having said that, anything is better than the pen and paper, for very obvious reasons around germ spreading!

Good question. Bigger stores, supermarkets, shopping malls, etc. always had one staff member at the entrance who would not let you in unless you scanned the QR code and showed the confirmation screen. Smaller ones would put it there but, unless you purchased something and went to the cashier, not necessarily had enough staff to check on everyone. So yes, not 100% infallible either.

Personally, I downloaded the tracing app and was always compliant with the QR code scanning. If I have to compare human behaviours, from what I saw, people seemed more willing to comply with the QR code than with the app.