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What ails mAadhaar app for Android phones?

LiveMint logoLiveMint 20-07-2017 Vishal Mathur

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is now rolling out the mAadhaar application for Android smartphones. The app is available as a free download on Google Play Store, and is designed to put all the Aadhaar details in your pocket. How well does the app work and does it mean anything?

For starters, you need to be sure that the mAadhaar app that you are downloading is the authentic one—look for the developer name “Unique Identification Authority of India”, because there are tons of fake apps with similar names that may be waiting to pounce on the data of unsuspecting users. At present, the app is available only for Android smartphones, and there’s no word yet on if, and when, an iOS app will be made available for Apple iPhone users.

At present, the app is available only for Android smartphones.

While you download the mAadhaar app from the Play Store, it will install on your phone as the Aadhaar Voter Portal. We aren’t entirely sure why UIDAI has clubbed features such as new voter registration, objection in electoral rolls etc. to an app that was perhaps designed for a completely different purpose. Nevertheless, we persist and focus on Aadhaar-specific features of the app.

Open the mAadhaar app, and you will see a home screen with various options—link PAN (permanent account number) with Aadhaar, locate enrolment centre, check Aadhaar status, download Aadhaar, get Aadhaar number on mobile, retrieve lost UID, check update status, update details online, update at enrolment centre, verify Aadhaar number, verify your email and mobile details, lock and unlock biometrics as well as a list of Aadhaar regional offices.

Tapping on most options also throws up a pop-up that tells us “SSL Certificate Error”.

All seems good till now, and on paper, this seems like a very powerful app to have in your phone—considering how Aadhaar is slowly becoming rather more important in our lives than any one of us may have previously imagined. However, there are problems galore. First and foremost, most of the options listed above do not work most of the time. We cannot blame internet connectivity for that, because we tried this on 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi (speeds up to 100Mbps) connections, but the pages refused to load. Tapping on most options also throws up a pop-up that tells us “SSL Certificate Error: The certificate authority is not trusted; do you wish to continue anyway?”. Any user who doesn’t exactly know that SSL certificates are used on websites to ensure security and privacy for online transactions, and badly deployed SSL certificates result in such errors, will perhaps be completely stumped.

Tap on “ok” at this stage, and it seems like an endless wait of staring at the white screen waiting for something to show up. We were trying this with the Download Aadhaar option (well, that’s most attractive among all the options, isn’t it?) as well as the check Aadhaar status and locate enrolment centres, but the pages refused to load. What did load, however, included “check update status”, much to our delight. However, that was shortlived too, because what you eventually get is the same page that you would get, if you visit from a web browser (such as Google Chrome or the Microsoft Internet Explorer) from your computer (Windows or MacOS). This is extremely irritating, to say the least, because a web page that is optimised for a computer screen is plainly unusable on a comparatively much smaller smartphone screen (which also must pop-up an on-screen keyboard every time you select a data field to enter some information.

UIDAI, in the app description page on the Play Store says that users can “share QR code and password protected eKYC data”, essentially for activating new services that require Aadhaar verification—such as buying a new mobile connection or opening a bank account.


What must have started out as a rather noble idea of making the Aadhaar information available on our smartphones, has descended into a bit of chaos. The app, though it seems to have a lot of potential, is quite un-intuitive, most features don’t work a lot of the time and we aren’t very enthused with the idea of a standard website wrapped inside a shell of an app. It is clear that the app developers have a lot of work to do on making this app genuinely useable, if that is even a priority.

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