Reader question: What difference is there between France’s old coronavirus application and the new one? Are they compatible?
France launched an updated version of its coronavirus tracing app on October 22, changing the name from StopCovid to TousAntiCovid (everyone against Covid).
The old version was launched on June 2 but failed to catch on. President Emmanuel Macron said in a speech on October 14: "I wouldn't say it's a failure; it didn't work."
The application only sent out 472 warning notifications in the five months it was active.
StopCovid was downloaded around 2 million times. Similar apps in England and Wales and Germany have been downloaded 18 million times and 16 million times respectively.
How does it work?
TousAntiCovid is not entirely new but is an update of StopCovid. That means that if you have already downloaded StopCovid, all you need to do is update it and it will become TousAntiCovid.
StopCovid is no longer available.
Just like with the old version, TousAntiCovid works using bluetooth.
The idea is that users activate it when they are out in public. The app will privately and anonymously detail every time it comes within one metre of another active app for longer than 15 minutes.
If a user then marks that they have tested positive for Covid-19, all other users who have been within one metre of that person for more than 15 minutes will receive a warning notification to say they are a contact case.
The aim is to enable contact cases to monitor themselves, to consult a doctor, to get tested or to self-isolate if necessary, in order to break the chain of transmission of the virus.
What is new with the app?
- Deactivation: With TousAntiCovid, users can activate or deactivate the application whenever they want. This feature is in place to stop the app draining a phone’s battery power when a user is at home or not in public.
- Download curfew exemption forms: The new app allows users quick access to an online version of the curfew exemption forms.
- Coronavirus data: The app provides up-to-date key figures on coronavirus, such as the incidence rate, the number of intensive care beds being occupied by coronavirus patients, and the number of TousAntiCovid users.
- Language: The app is available in six different languages, including English.
- Testing centres: The app allows users quick access to DépistageCovid, a map of testing centres updated with information on waiting times reported by users.
More features will be added to the app over time.
Is it more popular than the first app?
TousAntiCovid has just over 4 million users. However, these include the users who downloaded the first app, StopCovid. So, in reality, the new app has been downloaded around 2 million times since it launched on October 22.
The app has now sent out over 1,100 notifications to contact cases, over double the old app sent in the first 5 months it was available.
However, the new app had a rocky start, as it was hit with technical problems due to too many people trying to download it on the first day.
Twitter users have reported mixed messages, with some praising it and others still unhappy.
I just started using the French test and trace app #TousAntiCovid and it's really good— David Stoyle (@david_stoyle) October 25, 2020
Had to borrow a phone charger today because the new French #TousAntiCovid app was gobbling my battery. Had been running the German one for 6 months without even noticing it. Why can't everyone just copy the German one?— Tom Barfield (@tombarfield) October 25, 2020
This is the second anti-Covid app the French gov has released (first one was a total fiasco). Most people were unable to activate this one for the first few days, I waited a bit but still couldn't. Then when I launched it again it was in English #TousAntiCovid pic.twitter.com/eeDv4lzN4L— Korban (@Korban_) October 24, 2020