Apple and Google have released the first series of tools for their COVID-19 related joint digital effort to stop its spread via contract tracing. The companies have rolled out COVID-19 contact tracing/exposure notification development tools for app makers.
Through iOS 13.5 beta and Google Play update, Apple and Google, respectively, have released a test version of the framework and software development kits for health care agencies to design, build and test their applications. Apple has released Xcode 11.5 today, while Google is also releasing a new update for its SDK to developers.
COVID-19 Contact Tracing Technology
Conceptualized and designed to contain the spread of coronavirus through contact tracing, Apple and Google’s development kit will facilitate health authorities to built apps ahead of the technology’s release in mid-May. For further assistance of health agencies in building apps, Apple Inc. and Google will release sample code to developers for the functionality of the exposure notification system, and information on the kinds of applications compatible with the upcoming Bluetooth tracing technology.
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) April 29, 2020
How will contact tracing technology work
This health related technology will be rolled out in phases. The first phase focuses on providing the concerned agencies or developers with development tools to build applications which allows COVID-19 infected individuals to record their diagnosis. The second phase will come in effect in May with the release of Bluetooth technology which will track people that an infected individual comes in contact with, and alerts them via an exposure notification.
User’s Security and Privacy Concerns
To answer queries regarding users privacy, the companies informed that their tracing system will be protected with end-to-end encryption, so the logged-in information will not be personally identifiable. In addition, the system will generate keys randomly to minimize the risk of tracking and leaks. Read more about the exposure notification privacy enhancement details.
Apple and Google partnership in COVID-19 pandemic
To fight coronavirus, the released APIs will allow interoperability between Android and iOS smartphones. Once developed, compatible applications will be available in App Store and Google Play for download. The software will be compatible with devices running iOS 13 and Android 6, or later.
Subsequent to that, a Bluetooth-based contact tracing technology will be integrated in their respective operating systems for a profound use of the technology by involving a larger section of people. The intention behind the development of tracing technology is solely to contain the spread of the virus, therefore, once the infectees curve is flattened, the technology will be discontinued.
In individual capacity, both tech giants have been working hard to provide as many tech solutions as possible. Google provided data of most visited locations, Apple Apple launched mobility data for 63 countries and also opened a registration portal for health care facilities to show COVID-19 testing locations in Apple maps. Apple also built an app and website as screening tools, and also provided assistance to Stanford Medical team to build their app. The company has also been producing and supplying face shields to frontline workers around the world.
This partnership was the need of the hour, as all smartphones run on either of the operating systems designed and built by these companies. Therefore, a technology built to stop the spread of the coronavirus will reach almost everyone with a smartphone, which will be imperative in saving lives.