Competitors Google and Apple announced on Friday, April 10, that the two tech giants are working together in creating a smartphone “contact tracing” tool that can potentially alert people when they have crossed paths with COVID-19-positive individual.
The partnership of the two companies is deemed as the largest effort in different mobile operating systems to use smartphone location technology to track and potentially contain the new coronavirus.
If successful, it would allow apps to be created enabling smartphones that run on either Apple or Google’s Android operating system to exchange information with a joint “opt in system” using Bluetooth wireless technology.
Their next month’s plan is to release software interface technology to allow for interoperability – so that an alert would work regardless of the operating system.
“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,” the companies said in a joint statement.
This plan comes to light as governments around the world scramble to develop measures that rely on smartphone location technology to accurately identify people with the coronavirus and help isolate them to prevent infecting others, even as the efforts raise privacy and civil liberties concerns.
In terms of privacy concerns, “Contact tracing can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and can be done without compromising user privacy,” Apple chief executive Tim Cook said in a tweet.
US President Donald Trump said during a briefing that the government would take “a very strong look” at the contact-tracing collaboration.
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