Apple and Google coronavirus contact tracing technology can track users who are in the vicinity of an infected person.
According to announcements from Apple and Google, the long-awaited contact tracing technology to help public health officials develop mobile apps that can notify people if they might have been exposed to the coronavirus, specifically, for those who might have spent time with or near someone infected with the coronavirus.
The unprecedented collaboration between the two big tech giants was announced last month in an attempt to help the government better trace and control the spread of coronavirus. Several U.S. states, including North Dakota and Alabama, and 22 countries have received access to the technology, as stated by the companies.
In a statement, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum described the smartphone technology as being “critical to getting communities and economies back up and running.”
Mobile apps using the Apple and Google coronavirus contact tracing technology will help users detect if they have spent time near other users who later tests positive for the virus. And the notification will appear for at least five minutes and anonymously notify them. The software will rely on Bluetooth technology, which is commonly used to link wireless speakers and keyboards.
By joining forces, Apple and Google have made it possible to use most smartphones to share information about possible exposure to the virus. But some research suggests that widespread adoption – by some estimates, 60% – is needed for mobile apps to be effective in helping to contain an outbreak.
Nearly 3 in 5 Americans said they would be unwilling or unable to use Google and Apple’s contact tracing technology, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll.
Governments worldwide have tried to released their apps to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus but mostly unsuccessfully due to rules set by Apple and Google that prevent them from harvesting the location, phone number and other personal details from users, though mobile apps can ask users to divulge that information because of the privacy and accuracy concerns.
“User adoption is key to success and we believe that these strong privacy protections are also the best way to encourage the use of these apps,” Apple and Google said in a statement. “Each user gets to decide whether or not to opt-in to exposure notifications; the system does not collect or use the location from the device; and if a person is diagnosed with Covid-19, it is up to them whether or not to report that in the public health app.”
This is considered a rare partnership of the two big rivals in the market with their main purpose being to solve several primary technical challenges that governments have had in building Bluetooth-based apps. It will make it easier for iPhones and Android phones to detect each other, work across national and regional borders, and fix some of the problems that led previous apps to quickly drain a phone’s battery.
The software will be downloadable on most Androids and iPhone models released since September 2015.