Google And Apple Join Forces To Battle COVID-19

by John Nieves  April 11, 2020

It’ll make it easier for health apps to do contact tracing

While there are already efforts to use people’s smartphones as tracking tools for contact tracing, they’re not perfect – there are still hurdles to overcome, including compatibility between Android and iOS as well as other, small technical details to make the system work.

Apparently that’s not lost on both Google and Apple, who have just announced today that they’re partnering for work on Bluetooth technology that will allow governments and health agencies to conduct contact tracing via apps that they come up with.

The companies are now working on application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level support to “assist in enabling contact tracing”, which will allow developers of contact tracing apps more interoperability between the two operating systems, which should lead to more accurate tracing using Bluetooth technology.

Both companies pledge that the contact tracing methods through supported coronavirus apps will keep “user privacy and security central to the design,” which will likely mean that information will be encrypted on user’s phones and not uploaded to the cloud.

Both companies also plan on making a “broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform” and baking in the functionality into their operating systems. There are already apps that use Bluetooth for contact tracing developed by governments like Singapore and Israel, but Google and Apple’s efforts will allow contact tracing to happen without having to install a dedicated app.

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