08:41 13th Apr, 2020
When Android and iOS Battle Covid-19 Together
Google and Apple say that they would use Bluetooth tech to help conduct contact tracing across the world
Tough times do not last, tough people do. Looks like both Sundar Pichai and Tim Cook are indeed tough people in more ways than one. The duo has brought their companies together to create a solution that would allow governments to conduct Covid-19 contact tracing more easily using Bluetooth technology.
Both companies reiterated that user privacy and security would be critical components of the tools that they jointly develop that would consist of application programming interfaces or APIs and OS-level support to assist in enabling contact tracing. In a blog post announcing the move, Google says “the plan is to implement this solution in two steps while maintaining strong protections around user privacy.”
The blog post says both companies would release APIs that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities, which would be made available for users to download via their app stores. The next step would be to jointly enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms.
“This is a more robust solution than an API and would allow more individuals to participate, if they choose to opt in, as well as enable interaction with a broader ecosystem of apps and government health authorities. 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 analyse.”
However, all of these efforts are likely to take up to 45-60 days to fructify with system-level support allowing more people to participate and support more interactions with a broader number of apps used by government health organizations.
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, the blog says.
On the privacy concerns, the companies are seeking to develop technologies in close association with stakeholders besides also publishing information about their work so that experts and other organizations can analyse what they are doing and bring forth issues where there are concerns.
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