Tech giants Apple and Google have teamed up with Contact Tracing, a technology that can help people find out if they have been exposed to COVID-19 through Bluetooth apps and technology.
According to Google, Contact Tracing "makes it possible to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus by alerting participants to possible exposure to someone with whom they recently came into contact and who were later positively diagnosed as having the virus."
The application lets you know if the other person you have been in contact with has been diagnosed with COVID and recommends self-quarantine in response. At the same time, in a joint statement, companies say "user privacy and security" is fundamental to design and that they will launch software tools and operating system technology to assist researchers.
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To help public health authorities to decrease the spread of # COVID19, Google & @Apple are working on a contact tracking approach designed with strong controls and protections for user privacy. @Tim cook and I am committed to working together on these efforts.https://t.co/T0j88YBcFu
– Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) April 10, 2020
Google explainer on how COVID applications will work (Photo: Google)
In May, Apple and Google will launch so-called APIs, software tools that allow developers to build on operating systems, which will be interoperable between the Apple iOS and Google Android mobile platforms. In turn, companies expect contact tracking apps to be available for download from Apple iOS and Google Play app stores.
In the "coming months", Apple and Google are also looking to activate a Bluetooth-based solution as part of the iOS and Android platforms.
The companies say this would allow more people to participate ", in addition to allowing interaction with a broader ecosystem of government applications and health officials."
On Twitter, Sundar Pichai, Google's CEO, said that contact tracking would have "strong controls and protections for user privacy". In his tweet, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that contact tracking can be done "without compromising user privacy".
In March, President Donald Trump took Google by surprise by announcing that the company was working with the government on a national website to help people pre-select COVID-19.
Contact tracking can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and can be done without compromising user privacy. We are working with @sundarpichai & @Google to help health officials take advantage of Bluetooth technology in a way that also respects transparency and consent. https://t.co/94XlbmaGZV
– Tim Cook (@tim_cook) April 10, 2020
Google later said it was actually a sister unit of parent company Alphabet, called Verily, which said it would start a pilot test in the San Francisco bay area. Since then, it has expanded to Stockton, in the central California valley, Sacramento, the state capital and Riverside, south of Los Angeles.
Users are pre-selected on the Web and, if they meet predetermined criteria, they advance to a drive-up test facility.
Apple is dedicated to supporting the global response to COVID-19. We now have more than 20 million masks in our supply chain. Our design, engineering, operations and packaging teams are also working with suppliers to design, produce and send face shields to doctors. pic.twitter.com/3xRqNgMThX
– Tim Cook (@tim_cook) April 5, 2020
Meanwhile, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced on Twitter that the company had purchased more than 20 million protective masks. "Our design, engineering, operations and packaging teams are also working with suppliers to design, produce and send face shields to doctors."
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