Wired into the pandemic

Updated: 16 March, 2020 10:32 IST | Dalreen Ramos | Mumbai

Google and Apple have cracked down on coronavirus-related mobile applications that aren't developed by recognised institutions. We scoured the app store to find four apps that prove to be useful

Named after the spikes that jut out of their surface, like a crown or the sun's corona, the coronavirus has sparked tons of misinformation. Keeping this in mind or the profit that could be created from it via ads on mobile applications, Apple and Google have been strictly evaluating the apps that make it to their stores. Searching for the subject or keywords on Apple's App Store reveals few relevant results while on Google's Play Store reveals nothing unless you search for the specific title. Here's what we found after we gave them a workout.

Corona Tracker

Using data from The Center For Systems Science and Engineering at John Hopkins, the app conveys the intensity of the virus through pie charts, line graphs and bar diagrams.
What worked: An extremely well-designed application, it offers a split screen showcasing a global map and statistics at the bottom. The map is dynamic ie figures related to COVID-19 cases can be drawn out for every country and split into three categories: confirmed, recovered and deaths.
What didn't work: Even though the app shows that it's updating figures each time you log out, the total for India stood at 82 so it isn't updating in real-time. Plus, apart from statistics, there's no real utility to it for common people.

5/10
Log on to App Store

GoK - Direct Kerala

GoK - Direct Kerala

An initiative by the state government of Kerala, this app includes general information, guidelines for travellers, a quarantine protocol and advice for those visiting the state.
What worked: Although hyper-local, the app does give you detailed information on how to go about navigating day-to-day life in this scenario; we spotted an eight-step guide on how to wash your hands effectively, including how you need to ensure that the soap gets in between the fingers.
What didn't work: Most of the content is in Malayalam, although it can be easily translated outside the app. It doesn't offer a great user experience and there's a glitch-ridden
'category' tab.

6/10
Log on to
Play Store

COVID-19 Tracker

COVID-19 Tracker

A top result on the Apple store, this app has been developed by HealthLynked and draws from data reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

What worked: The tracking map is well organised and divides the total number of cases into the following categories: WHO confirmed, WHO deaths, Asymptomatic, Symptomatic and Self-Reported Positive. There's also a Feeds tab which shows you virus-related news from around the world.
What didn't work: The count of infected cases in India stood at 84, which it reflected in its tracker, but the number of cases in Mumbai stood at two, which was incorrect at the time of going to press.

6.5/10
Log on to App Store

COVA

COVA

Developed by the state government of Punjab, COVA (Corona Virus Alert) has been created in consultation with the Health and Family Welfare Department.
What worked: Sign up with your phone number and the home page displays a real-time counter for Punjab, which can be disappointing for Mumbaikars. But there's so much more in store — a symptom checklist, informational charts in English, Hindi and Punjabi, travelling instructions and prevention products. The interface is also well done. Now, if only the Maharashtra Government could take a cue. What didn't work: The counter should have included neighbouring states, top.

8/10
Log on to
App Store, Play Store

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First Published: 16 March, 2020 05:19 IST

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