France reports that the technical limitations of iOS prevent the creation of a government application that will allow tracking of COVID-19 contacts.
As the Bloomberg report has said, France plans to distribute the app by May 11 and is asking Apple to exceed all of the technical limits that are holding back its development.
In practice, Apple prevents contact tracking applications from running Bluetooth in the background when data is sent from the device. This limitation is designed to protect user privacy, but France requests Apple to temporarily change this policy, only for government applications.
We are asking Apple to overcome the technical obstacle to allow us to develop a European health solution that will be linked to our health system.
Apple responded by explaining that the APIs created with Google will be available in May and will allow the traceability of contacts in third-party applications.
The French government, however, wants to rely on its own solutions and calls on Apple to intervene and resolve the privacy restrictions currently built into iOS. France has not provided additional details on the tools it is developing, but the government has said that users will be able to download the app voluntarily when it is available in May:
The French parliament will discuss the application, which was developed by Inria, the government body responsible for technological research, on April 28. The members will not be able to decide to modify or not its implementation. Users will download it on a voluntary basis, but no additional details have been made public.
Note that the contact tracking technology developed by Apple and Google will only be available to public health authorities, not to any application developer. The French government would be rigorously registered on this list. The problem is that France has already developed its application and does not want to wait until the Apple and Google APIs are available.