Contact tracing during pandemic is a key thing—but oftentimes can be very difficult. These days, however, contact tracing could do with some much needed help from technology. So, this has brought two tech giants together in what could best be described as a rare collaboration—Apple and Google are teaming up to launch a COVID-19 contact tracing through Bluetooth technology.
The technology being worked on will be integrated into Android and iOS, both companies have announced in separate blog post and on Twitter. The move is to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Apple and Google are jointly launching a “comprehensive solution” that can be used for contact tracing that covers “application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing.”
This new method being worked on by the two Silicon Valley tech behemoths will provide better alternative to the current technique that involves using location data from carriers and other telecom companies being implemented by some countries.
“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,” a statement on Google site said.
With the soon-to-be launched tools, governments will be able to build COVID-19 contact tracing apps that will work across Apple and Google devices. When two people are within close-range, their phones will exchange anonymous identifiers. If anyone diagnosed with the coronavirus, his device can transmit a list of everyone he has been in contact with to the cloud.
Interestingly, the second person’s device will periodically download a list of everybody that has tested positive in his area. Once a match takes place, they will be notified and prompted to contact health officials.
Official apps to work with the APIs which will be available from next month [May] can be downloaded from Google Play Store and the App Store.
In the coming months, Apple and Google will also be working to enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms. This, the two companies believe is a more robust solution than an API. It would also allow more people to participate should they decide to opt in, as well as enable interaction with a broader ecosystem of apps and government health authorities.