Coronavirus: Apple and Google to partner for contact tracing technology

The joint effort of Apple and Google in the first phase will launch application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing for coronavirus spread.

Two leading technology giants of the world – Apple and Google — will be joining hands to combat the fast-spreading coronavirus or COVID-19 by coming out with technical tools to help combat the deadly virus.

Apple CEO Tim Cook in a post on Twitter outlined the plans of both the companies, where he highlighted the combined efforts of governments and health authorities to combat coronavirus. This also includes software developers contributing by crafting technical tools.

Apple CEO Tim Cook

A statement by Apple said, “In this spirit of collaboration, Google and Apple are announcing a joint effort to enable the use of Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus, with user privacy and security central to the design.”

According to Apple, 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.

To further this cause, Apple and Google will be launching a comprehensive solution that includes application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing. Given the urgent need, the plan is to implement this solution in two steps while maintaining strong protections around user privacy. the statement said.

First, in May, both companies will release APIs that will enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices, using apps from public health authorities. These official apps will be available for users to download via their respective app stores.

Second, in the coming months, Apple and Google will work 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, the statement.

However, at the same time, Apple also stressed that privacy, transparency, and consent are of utmost importance in this effort. “We will openly publish information about our work for others to analyse,” the statement said.

Describing the battle against coronavirus as world’s most pressing problems, Apple stressed that through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments, and public health providers, it hopes 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.

(Edited by Suman Singh)

Edited by Suman Singh


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