Apple and Google’s Exposure Notification API Now Works Across Countries

Apple and Google’s exposure notification API, which is currently being used in countries around the world including today’s launch in Canada, has been updated with various improvements.

Google covid alert

Google detailed the changes on its blog, noting the following updates to the API, which is only allowed to be used with one app per country:

  • When an exposure is detected, public health authorities now have more flexibility in determining the level of risk associated with that exposure based on technical information from the API.
  • Bluetooth calibration values for hundreds of devices have been updated to improve the detection of nearby devices.
  • The API now supports interoperability between countries, following feedback from governments that have launched Exposure Notification apps.
  • To help public health authorities build apps more efficiently, we’ve added reliability improvements for apps and developer debug tools.
  • We’ve improved clarity, transparency and control for users. For example, the Exposure Notifications settings on Android now include a simple on/off toggle at the top of the page. In addition, users will also see a periodic reminder if ENS is turned on.

One key improvement is the API now works across countries that have similarly implemented the exposure notification framework. This means those travelling to other countries using Apple and Google’s exposure notification API, their device will also work when it comes in contact with others for anonymous Bluetooth “handshakes”.

Based on tracking of countries using the Exposure Notification API by XDA Developers, the following nations have released or are developing an app using Apple and Google’s API:

  • Australia (in development)
  • Austria
  • Brazil
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Croatia (in development)
  • Denmark
  • Ecuador (in development)
  • Estonia (in development)
  • Finland (in development)
  • Germany
  • Gibraltar
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Kenya (in development)
  • Latvia
  • Malta (in development)
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands (in development)
  • Northern Ireland (in development)
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal (in development)
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • Uruguay
  • Alabama; Arizona; Nevada; North/South Dakota; Virginia (all in development)

Officially, Google says “16 countries and regions across Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America” are using the Exposure Notification API, with more in development as well.

“In the United States, 20 states and territories—representing approximately 45 percent of the U.S. population—are exploring apps based on ENS,” added Google.

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Google also explains Android 11 will soon let allow Exposure Notification apps but without device location settings turned on.

“We’re committed to supporting public health authorities as they build tools to fight COVID-19. We’ll continue to improve ENS based on feedback, while ensuring that people can trust in the privacy-preserving design of this technology,” explained Dave Burke VP of Engineering at Google.

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