Google and Apple partner up to notify consumers who may have been exposed to coronavirus

Photo (c) MF3d - Getty Images

Consumers will receive an alert if they were in contact with someone who tested positive

Companies are continuing to step up their efforts to support consumers during the coronavirus crisis. On Friday, Google and Apple announced a new partnership that will allow them to help track the spread of the disease and alert consumers who may be affected by it. 

A new program called “Contact Tracing” will allow the companies to reference information from public health authorities and send alerts to consumers who may have been in contact with someone who was exposed to the coronavirus.

“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,” the companies said in a joint announcement. 

Working together to create solutions

To allow the program to work, Google and Apple will be rolling out Contact Tracing in two steps. First, the companies will release new APIs that enable devices from both the Android and iOS platforms to communicate with each other and receive information from apps run by public health authorities. 

In the second step, the companies plan to build a more expansive platform that allows them to track the spread of the virus through Bluetooth technology. Officials note that consumers will need to opt into these programs for them to work, which may give some relief to those who have privacy concerns.

“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,” the companies said.

“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.”

For more information on Contact Tracing, readers can find more specifications released by Apple here.

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