As the world is caught up in the grasp of COVID-19, government and authorities throughout the globe are trying to find solutions for it in order to protect the masses and keep the societies running. Software companies and developers have also stepped in by designing tools that help fight the virus and save lives. The big names have come together at the same time as Apple and Google collaborate. Both companies have announced their joint effort to enable the use of Bluetooth technology to help authorities and governments fighting the pandemic to reduce the spread of the virus with the aid of user privacy and security central to the design.
As you must already know, COVID-19 spreads and transmit if you are in close proximity to a person who has it. Contact is considered to be a valuable tool by many public health officials in helping identify the spread and contain the virus. Many public health authorities and NGOs throughout the world are working tirelessly to develop opt-in contact tracing technology. In order to add more effort to the cause, Apple and Google are collectively launching a comprehensive solution that includes application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing. Since the need for it is urgent, the companies have planned to implement the solution in two steps while maintaining strong protections around user privacy.
The first step will be implemented in May where both companies will release APIs that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities. The official apps will be available on the respective app stores and can be downloaded from there.
The second step will be that in the upcoming months, both companies will work hand in hand to enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform. This will be done 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. Privacy, transparency, and consent are of utmost importance in this effort, and we look forward to building this functionality in consultation with interested stakeholders. We will openly publish information about our work for others 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.”