Apple Partners With Google For COVID-19 Contact Tracing Technology

Apple today announced a partnership with Google to enable the use of Bluetooth technology on iPhones and Android smartphones to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus, and promise to protect user privacy and security, make sure they are central to the design.

Since COVID-19 can be transmitted through close proximity to affected individuals, public 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 will be launching 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 May, both corporations will launch APIs that allow interchangeability between Android and iOS devices using public health apps. These official apps will be available for users to download through their respective app stores.

Furthermore, 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. Apple says that this is a more flexible approach than the API and will allow more individuals to participate if they chose to opt in, as well as to engage with a wider network of apps and government health authorities.

For those who want to learn more about how the tracing procedures work, Apple and Google have published draft technical documentation, including those of the Bluetooth and Cryptography specification and framework documentation.

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