COVID-19 - Apple and Google are collaborating on technology to help contact tracing


As COVID-19 continues to affect 210 countries and territories around the world with no sign of slowing down, technology companies are helping by crafting technical tools to help fight the virus and save lives. Google and Apple are about to launch a joint effort 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.

Since the coronavirus can be transmitted through close proximity to affected individuals, health officials have identified contact tracing as a valuable tool to help contain its spread. A number of leading public health authorities, universities, and NGOs around the world have been doing important work to develop opt-in contact tracing technology. To further this cause, Apple and Google are collaborating to launch a comprehensive solution that includes application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing. Given the urgent need, the plan is to implement this solution in two steps while maintaining strong protections around user privacy.

In the coming months, 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 IOS and Android app stores.

Also, they 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.

The companies believe there has never been a more important moment to work together to solve one of the world’s most pressing problems. Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments and public health providers, they hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday life.

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