Apple and Google Launching COVID-19 Tracing Tool for iOS and Android
Well, it’s true Apple and Google can indeed work together for the greater good. Today, both companies announced they would be teaming up to bring forth a COVID-19 tracing tool for iOS and Android using Bluetooth technology.
The move is to “help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus, with user privacy and security 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,” explained Apple in a press release.
Both companies will release APIs and “operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing,” in a two-step solution “while maintaining strong protections around user privacy.”
Apple says the first step will come in May, when both companies will release APIs to allow Android and iOS interoperability between devices when using apps from health authorities. Official apps will be available in the App Store and Google Play.
The second step “in the coming months,” will see Apple and Google engineers team up 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.”
Apple says they will openly publish information about work for people to analyze.
“All of us at Apple and Google 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, we 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,” concluded the companies.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said on Twitter, “Contact tracing can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and can be done without compromising user privacy. We’re working with @sundarpichai & @Google to help health officials harness Bluetooth technology in a way that also respects transparency & consent.”
Earlier this week, the National Post reported a Canadian COVID-19 contact tracing startup said provincial and federal governments were not interested in his app. But now that Apple and Google are making their own solution, governments will be listening indeed.
Great to see some of the smartest people in world at Apple and Google working together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay tuned for this and read more about it here on Apple’s new website on the matter.