Apple & Google team up to build a coronavirus tracking system

Apple and Google team up to fight coronavirus
Apple & Google team up to build  a coronavirus tracking system

Apple and Google are building a coronavirus tracking system into iOS and Android devices to help track the spread of coronavirus by telling users if they contacted an infected person and are potentially sick themselves. The project is set to release somewhere in May.

This a great step in the fight against the pandemic as two of the biggest players in the tech industry are set to announce a new set of tools that could be accessed by a majority of smartphones around the world.

The technology relies on Bluetooth wireless radio technology to help phones communicate with one another and warns people about the people they had come in contact with who are infected with the coronavirus. It's like ultimately building a voluntary contact tracing network for short-distance communication between devices. So when you test positive for the virus, you enter that information into the app on your phone, and other people who have been near you in the previous 14 days are alerted. Your medical information remains private.

According to the draft technical documentation that was published by Apple and Google - the software will consist of an API (application programming interface) that lets Apple and Android phones swap data with each other. Users will have to separately download apps created by the health authorities that use the API as the underlying system for exchanging data. The data will be accessible to public health officials.  The companies plan to add contact tracing software directly into the operating systems so that it will be on more people's phones by default.

This program may not replace old-fashioned methods of contact tracing, which involves health personnel interviewing infected people about the places they have been to. In the long run, it could offer a high-tech supplement using a device that billions of people already own.

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