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Upgrading to iPhone 12 causes issues for UK NHS COVID-19 app users

Users of the UK's NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app have run into problems when trying to upgrade to the iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro, with the app not prompting users to turn on Exposure Notifications after transferring it from the old device.

A number of iPhone 12 users in England and Wales who upgraded to the just-released models from an older iPhone have encountered error messages when they try to open the official NHS COVID-19 app. Users who perform an automated installation of in-use apps from their old iPhone to the new unit, such as via an iCloud Backup, may encounter errors when trying to run the app after the transfer takes place.

An error is displayed advising to users the app couldn't be run due to a "restriction in your settings" or that another app is using the same technology and is stopping it from working, the BBC reports. The NHS app's Twitter account further confused matters by pointing some users to its support pages containing a list of compatible devices, one that doesn't list the iPhone 12.

It has been found that the problem lies in the app failing to prompt the user to turn on Exposure Notifications on their new smartphone, a prompt that would normally appear the first time the app is installed in the form of a permission request. As a transferred app doesn't ask permission, it displays a somewhat unhelpful error instead.

Users can re-enable the notifications by heading to the Settings app, selecting Notifications, then Exposure Notifications, then tapping Allow Notifications.

While the official guidance has been lacking, some users have engineered their own solution, by deleting the app from their device and reinstalling it. While the technique works, doing so also deletes all of the app's collected data, including any other detected devices and places the user checked into using the app, which may hamper contact tracing efforts in the near future, if the user had been exposed to COVID-19 in some way.