Apple and Google have jointly announced that they have teamed up to help governments and health agencies track and reduce the spread of COVID-19. The two companies are collaborating to enable the use of Bluetooth technology to develop a contact tracing technology using bluetooth data from mobile devices as a means for contact tracing. However, both companies assure that user privacy is still central to the design and that data collection will only be done if the user gives their consent.
“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,” Google and Apple said in its joint statement. The joint solution is expected to be implemented in two steps.
Apple and Google will ensure that health authorities can implement their contact tracing apps by releasing an API to enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices. By mid-May, users who want to participate in the contact tracing can download apps by their health authorities so they can opt-in to provide their Bluetooth data. The companies also plan to broaden the range of the contact tracing platform by building the API into their respective operating systems so that downloading an app will not be necessary to participate.
The companies commit to openly publishing information about their work for analysis.