New IEEE Software publication on COVID-19 apps by Ivano Malavolta, Marielle Stoelinga, and colleagues


A new publication titled “Engineering mobile apps for disaster management — the case of COVID-19 apps in the Google Play Store” has been published at the prestigious IEEE Software journal by Ivano Malavolta (VU) and Marielle Stoelinga (UTwente), together with other researchers of the Université de Montreal (Canada) and Queen’s University (Canada).

The paper is accessible here.

The publication is about an observational study on the characteristics of the software of COVID-19 apps published on the Google Play store, from which a series of suggestions for disaster management apps has been distilled. The obtained results will help professionals in (i) developing disaster-management apps with a higher level of quality and (ii) making better informed decisions with respect to the ones made during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abstract of the paper Several mobile apps have been released to the public in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of these apps share a similar socio-technological context: they are developed under a tight schedule, with immense social and political pressure, e.g., concerning privacy and security. This pressure can lead to malfunctions with serious consequences, considering the mission-critical nature of these apps. In this paper, we assess the severity of these factors by comparing 61 COVID-19 apps with 61 traditional (non-COVID-19) health and medical apps on the Android platform. Our analysis reveals several noteworthy differences, such as restrictions on operating system versions, and significantly more software bugs and code smells in COVID apps, directly threatening the utility of the app, e.g. in terms of reach, reliability, and performance.