Apple and Google join forces on COVID-19 contact tracing technology

It doesn’t happen every day that Apple and Google work together for a common goal, but clearly, the health and the good of the community are an exception. The two tech giants have just announced a partnership to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of Coronavirus – the current health emergency we are experiencing.

They are working together to tackle one of the biggest challenges in the fight against the COVID-19 – contact-tracing. To achieve this, the two companies are launching a people tracing technology that will let users know if they have recently been exposed to someone who has already been infected with the virus.

It is a system that, according to both companies, will respect people’s privacy and will only serve to track the spread of the Coronavirus. This platform is based on Bluetooth technology that will serve to create a voluntary tracing network, and the joint contribution of Apple and Google intends to offer a complete solution that includes APIs and other operating system-level solutions to achieve the goal.

The plan is to implement this solution in two steps while maintaining strong protections around user privacy. During the first, which will take place in May, both companies will release APIs that will allow interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps developed from public health authorities. These official apps will be available to users through their respective app stores.

In the following months (second phase), Apple and Google will work to create a wider contact tracing platform, based on Bluetooth technology, with the aim of integrating everything directly into the operating system. This is a more robust solution than an API and would allow more individuals to participate if they choose to opt-in.

Thus, for example, if a person comes into contact with another who has tested positive for Coronavirus after the interaction, they can receive a notification on their phone and undergo quarantine to determine if the infection has occurred. Both firms assured that this data collection will take place voluntarily since it will be the user who must choose to participate in the project, and that “privacy, transparency, and consent are of the utmost importance in this effort” against the COVID-19.

Apple and Google will publish information about their work so that it can be analyzed by third parties. There is already some material in the links at the bottom of the Google press release.