New Apple and Google’s COVID-19 contact tracing tech is ready

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Apple and Google are releasing their COVID-19 contact tracing technology to public health agencies (PHAs) around the world. So far, 22 countries on five continents have requested the API, which will allow PHAs to develop their own contact tracing apps.

Apple and Google have been collaborating on the Exposure Notifications System API for several weeks. As planned, the API will use Bluetooth to exchange keys between phones. If a user tests positive for COVID-19, they can inform their contact tracing app, which will use the API to send exposure notifications to people they may have come in contact with. The API will not gather location data or be able to identify users.

Apple and Google are providing the API, but PHAs will have to develop their own contact tracing apps. In an attempt to promote adoption and avoid fragmentation, use of the API will be restricted to one app per country — though there may be some exception if a country has opted for a state or regional approach. A handful of US states, including Alabama, North Dakota, and South Carolina, plan to use the API for their own apps.

Tech Gaint Apple CEO Tim Cook Tweeted an update:

Technology can help health officials rapidly tell someone they may have been exposed to COVID-19. Today the Exposure Notification API we created with @Google is available to help public health agencies make their COVID-19 apps effective while protecting user privacy.



CEO of Google & Alphabet CEO Mr.Sundar Pitchai Tweeted a Tweet:

The #COVID19 Exposure Notification technology we built jointly with @Apple is now available to public health agencies in support of their contact tracing efforts. Our goal is to empower them with another tool to help combat the virus while protecting user privacy.




The API will allow PHAs to define what constitutes an exposure event and determine transmission risk factors. For instance, a PHA may decide to send exposure notifications if you were exposed for several minutes (say, on public transit) but not if you were exposed for a few seconds (passing someone on the sidewalk).