Apple and Google have just shared how the coronavirus contact tracing software they're developing would work.
The two tech giants shared a sequence of snapshots and tips on Monday, May 4, for governments and public health authorities to combine with their contact tracing apps. It includes how the software notifies users if they interacted with someone with the coronavirus.
The agencies have now made clear that only government agencies and other authorities may be granted permission to the feature's application programming interface.
Location services turned off
Apple and Google said that their coronavirus tracing app will ban the use of the location tracking feature. The announcement could create possible problems for a few apps that plan to use the application for notifying people of potential exposure to COVID-19.
Apple and Google are developing software to back on public health apps instead of making their own. But they said on Monday that many authorities have asked for their help developing the apps.
The longtime rivals who control the world's most popular mobile operating systems, announced last month that they might work together to help governments manage the spread of the coronavirus using Bluetooth technology.
They initially developed an API--set to roll out later this month--that public health government can combine with apps at the iOS or Android systems. Apple and Google are looking for ways to eventually notify users whether that they contracted the virus without having an app, they said.
The system, which uses Bluetooth signals to determine how close you have come to diagnosed COVID-19 patients, is expected to be released by mid-May.
By embedding disease-monitoring features into every smartphone on the planet, the two companies would create a globe-spanning coronavirus warning device that has a bigger foothold in the health care industry.
In their announcement Monday, the organizations shared sample code for apps that could use their contact tracing tools, as well as suggestions to shield user privacy.
The guidelines said the app will:
- Not collect any location data;
- Be used only by health officials without being monetized;
- Require explicit user consent; and
- Be disabled once contact tracing is not needed.
But contact tracing apps in numerous countries have raised significant privacy worries that Google and Apple are looking forward to.
There are also still concerns about the effectiveness of contact tracing apps, including whether enough people will opt-in to provide a clear picture of how the virus is spreading.
But Google and Apple representatives say the app would offer a more powerful option to track exposure to the virus than conventional contact tracing methods, which contain manually recording those who have tested positive and who they were in contact in the past weeks.
The organizations say their technology appears to assist and enhance governments' current touch tracing efforts instead of replacing the efforts.