How to scan QR codes if your phone is too old for the NZ COVID Tracer app

Not all Kiwis have new smartphones, so how can they make sure they do their civic duty?
Not all Kiwis have new smartphones, so how can they make sure they do their civic duty? Photo credit: Getty Images

In the midst of the current outbreak of the COVID-19 Delta variant it's more important than ever that Kiwis continue to scan QR codes to aid contact tracing.

But what happens if you can't afford a modern smartphone and the official NZ COVID Tracer app doesn't work on your older phone?

A user on the popular r/New Zealand subreddit has helpfully posted what the Ministry of Health (MOH) has advised in such circumstances.

"I emailed the MOH yesterday asking about an alternative app for older phones, since the Covid Tracer doesn't work on them," they wrote.

"They recommended one called Rippl. It's been 'endorsed by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and is able to scan Ministry of Health posters'."

According to the MOH website, Bluetooth tracing is strongly recommended for optimum traceability, with the more people using it the more effective it will be.

However to enable Bluetooth tracing, users need to be running an operating system no older than iOS 12.5 or Android 6.0. Android phones also need to support Bluetooth Low Energy and Google Play Services.

If your phone doesn't meet those specifications but it runs iOS 10 or Android 6 the NZ COVID Tracer app can still be used to scan QR codes, get location notifications and keep a digital diary.

But there are older phones out there - and for those running at least Android 5, the Rippl app can be used for the same functionality.

Rippl was one of three vendor partners selected by the Ministry last year to provide integration with the NZ COVID Tracer app with a view to improving digital contact tracing.

To be considered, Rippl's developers needed to show that users' location history was securely recorded and nothing would be shared with the MOH without consent.

According to the latest stats from the official tracing app, 1.85 million people in New Zealand have Bluetooth tracing active, with more than three million total app registrations.