What the Tech? Should You Download a Coronavirus App?

As health workers are busy trying to contain the Covid-19 or the coronavirus and disseminate accurate information, app developers in China and elsewhere are working hard to take advantage of the concerns.

In the last week, coronavirus trackers have been showing up in the Google Play Store. They promise to send the latest information to your phone and help keep you safe.

The truth is, they’re taking this opportunity to install adware on your phone.

Take the Corona Tracker app for example. It may be free, but it contains ads. That’s how the app developer plans to make
money.

Every page includes an ad. While it does have a map and supposed latest figures, I found the numbers were off by hundreds according to a similar tracker by reputable source Johns Hopkins University.

The ads run constantly which will drain your battery. In less than 2 minutes in the app, my battery was down 6% and even if you close the app, it continues to run in the background.

The scary looking Coronavirus app also has ads and only includes a history of the virus. It’s free or you can pay $2 to remove the ads, or make a donation of up to $100 to the app’s developers.

I found at least a dozen similar coronavirus type apps in the Google Play Store. Apple has, for the most part, blocked them from its App Store with the exception of one from Brazil.

None of these apps are necessary and you’ll be sick you downloaded them in the first place. Sick Weather was a great flu tracker app a couple of years ago.

The app tracked seasonal flu and would send an alert if you entered an area where influenza had been reported. But the app
hasn’t been updated since last summer and the information is dated.

Looking at the live map Monday morning in Sarasota, Florida, there’s no mention of Covid-19 where there was a diagnosis and there’s now a state of emergency. I contacted the app developer to see if it’s still being supported but have received no response.

The sad truth is app developers are hoping to capitalize on your fear.

But be wary of any Coronavirus app. And if you’re an Android user, do not download or click on a link for an app from anywhere other than the Google Play Store. They’re just not safe.

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