One of the mostly unsolved questions of the COVID vaccine rollout is will the so called COVID Passport or COVID Pass be used for anything? If it is, what form will the pass take and how can that be tied to a physical identity?
Google has today provided one possible solution for part of that problem: where to safely store your pass on Android.
Governments around the world have already created digital passes, even here in Australia our technologically illiterate politicians somehow managed to get one created – within the established Medicare Plus mobile app.
The new Passes API from Google is a new framework that will allow authorised providers of COVID vaccines to create and store a digital version of COVID Passes for Android. The pass itself, once made, will live as a home screen icon for use offline.
The Passes themselves will be stored locally on the device and no information is sent to the cloud. For additional security, any device with a Pass installed will need to be Google Play Protect certified and have a lock screen activated.
Personally we would have liked to see an option for the passes to be stored in Google Pay, while not a payment system it already has other passes stored in it and it would have been a great central home on Android.
Another issue that is being discussed is if the passes will ever needed to be used as a entry token, say to a sporting event, in that case having a NFC compatible token that would allow a vaccinated person to quickly verify they are holding a token would have been a great addition, of course that’s where verifying that person is the person named on the pass becomes an issue.
It also would have been nice to see a joint approach again from Apple and Google so that the underlying technology in the passes were compatible and they held similar information to make any future use streamlined.
The Passes API is rolling out today in the USA “followed by other countries”. With Australia’s lacklustre approach to vaccinations, though, there mightn’t be much point to a vaccine passport here.