Apple and Google to Launch App for Tracking the Coronavirus

Longtime rivals and Google are officially partnering to develop a coronavirus-tracking app designed to tell you if you’ve recently been exposed to somebody who has tested positive for COVID-19.

The idea is to leverage the vast market reach of the two megacorporations to track the spread of the coronavirus. The app centers on the idea of “contact tracing” — keeping tabs, essentially, on who has the virus and who they could have spread it to already.

Bluetooth technology allows devices to measure proximity to other devices. Since the coronavirus can be transmitted by being close to those who have it, apps using this technology could indicate if a person has been in close contact with somebody who previously self-registered as testing positive for COVID-19.

According to a press release, both companies are planning to release APIs in May that will allow the app to work across both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile platforms and devices.

Apps from public health authorities will use the software to start collecting data — and potentially prompt users if they are at risk.

A full-fledged “Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform” will eventually be released “in the coming months,” according to a statement.

To keep those who are using the app anonymous, Google and Apple claim the information sent out will be designed to protect privacy.

“List of people you’ve been in contact with never leaves your phone,” according to official documentation. The app will also require “explicit user consent.”

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