Apple and Google are joining forces to develop technology for Coronavirus Infection Tracking
In a company announcement Apple and Google are joining forces in a bid to develop technology where smartphones can warn users that they may potentially be exposed to coronavirus. The joint effort is to enable the use of Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus, with user privacy and security central to the design.
Highlighting contract tracing as a valuable tool to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and the on-going work by public health authorities to develop opt-in contact tracing technology, it explains the efforts by Apple and Google in furthering this cause, through the launch of a comprehensive solution. This solution includes application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing, as well as the implementation plan, given the urgent need, while maintaining strong protections around user privacy. The plan which is in two steps is broken down thus:
First, in May, both companies will release APIs that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities. These official apps will be available for users to download via their respective app stores.
Second, in the coming months, Apple and Google will work to enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms. This is a more robust solution than an API and would allow more individuals to participate, if they choose to opt in, as well as enable interaction with a broader ecosystem of apps and government health authorities. Privacy, transparency, and consent are of utmost importance in this effort, and we look forward to building this functionality in consultation with interested stakeholders. We will openly publish information about our work for others to analyze.
In the close of the announcement, Apple and Google stress the need for close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments and public health providers, and the hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and hence, accelerate the return of everyday life.