- Apple and Google on Saturday announced that they have joined hands to build a Bluetooth-based COVID contact tracing platform
- They are working on application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing
- The APIs would allow iOS and Android to exchange information and make use of them,
Apple and Google on Saturday announced that they have joined hands to build a Bluetooth-based COVID contact tracing platform that lets people know when they have come in contact with a coronavirus-infected person. However, in its initial announcement, Apple didn't reveal much about how they are going to carry out the whole process. But now Apple has shared a bit of detail about how the contact tracing tool would work.
In a joint statement earlier, Apple and Google had said that they are working on application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing. The APIs would allow iOS and Android to exchange information and make use of them, which in other terms is called interoperability
As per a report published in The Verge, Apple has revealed that the users will have a bigger role to play in the entire process as they would have to opt-in for the API, post which the API would "begin sending out Bluetooth signals to nearby phones and recording signals sent to it by other phones."
So once the APIs are released in mid-May, whenever two people come in contact with each other, their phones using the app-enabled Bluetooth signals with exchange a key. This would only happen if you are in close proximity to a person.
However, if one of them gets infected with COVID-19, he can notify the app about it, which will then send the information across to users who have been in contact with the infected person, so they can either get tested for coronavirus or self-quarantine till the results are out. For instance, if you are on a bus and come in contact with an infected person, you will be notified about it. However, if you are walking on a road and there is an infected person on the other end, you probably would not get to know about it because the bluetooth signals have a set range.
The information about a person getting infected would be shared without revealing the name or any other data of the COVID positive person.You will not who has contracted the coronavirus but you will be simply notified that you have come in contact with a COVID-19 infected person.
"Second, in the coming months, Apple and Google will work to 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 analyze," the joint statement by Apple and Google read.