Apple and Google would release two early versions this week of their proposed technology to slow coronavirus spread to select developers for testing purposes, the companies said on Wednesday.
The two Silicon Valley companies, whose operating systems power 99 percent of the world’s smartphones, had said earlier this month that they would work together to create contact tracing technology to slow the virus spread by allowing users to opt into logging other phones they have been near.
The rare collaboration is expected to accelerate usage of apps that aim to get potentially infected individuals into testing or quarantine more quickly and reliably than existing systems in much of the world. Such tracing will play a vital role in managing the virus once lockdowns end, health experts say.
Last week, Apple and Google updated technical details of the coronavirus contact tracing system they plan to release next month, saying new features would strengthen privacy protections and give health authorities more detailed data. The system announced on April 10 will use Bluetooth technology to let authorities build apps to alert people who have been in proximity with those who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The technology does not employ GPS location data and stores most sensitive data in a decentralised way on users’ phones. The approach opened a rift with European governments planning systems that would store data on centralised servers.
Without the Apple-Google technology, apps built by those governments will face limitations such as needing a phone’s screen to be unlocked to work properly.
© Thomson Reuters 2020