Google and Apple team up for coronavirus tracing app technology

Joanna Estrada
April 15, 2020

The person said third-party apps have struggled to do much good, because they can't bridge device types or operating systems.

But what about the risk of people submitting false tests?

Apple and Google revealed plans for their contact tracing system earlier this week.

The Australian government is yet to confirm whether it would develop its own contact tracing app.

The companies ensured the users that the technology will remain opt-in for the users even in the OS-level update.

As many software developers are working on technical tools that help in fight against the virus, two big players from the technology sector, Google and Apple recently entered into a partnership, as part of their efforts towards finding a solution to coronavirus crisis, thereby protecting people and at the same time bringing back the society to normal. These apps will be used to verify positive test result submissions and deploy alerts directly through authorized health agencies.

In other words, users do not need to download additional apps for contact tracing to work, but key functionality will require users to download certain public health apps.

According to The Verge, Apple and Google's contact tracing system is "cleverly created to maximize individual privacy". That means billions of people could potentially receive notifications without ever downloading a separate app - that's both impressive and potentially alarming given the practice of "covidwashing", in which the location-data industry has been playing fast and loose with what is generally considered invasive products. Some because of privacy concerns, but mostly because people just won't know what it is and how to do it.

A test tube with fake blood and COVID-19 label and a 3D printed Google logo are placed near an Apple Macbook Pro in this illustration taken April 12, 2020.

No apps are sharing your actual phone contacts or tracking your location.
But it's possible that Apple or Google might be using features inaccessible to the user. South Korea is an example where a coronavirus containment campaign focused on aggressive testing and contact tracing works.

Google and Apple say that their cross-platform tracing system will be rolled out in two phases. The corporations stated they'll offer sample apps that as a starting point for public health companies rolling out those apps. Google has thought about those devices as well - reportedly, it will publish a framework for the device manufactures or the Chinese government in order for them to replicate the tracking system, developed by Google and Apple's joint forces.

According to an article by Rappler, digital "contact tracing" would allow the mobile systems to log various instances where people have been within close proximity of an infected person and send the alerts to the appropriate individuals.

The Apple and Google approach adopts a decentralised model, with neither the companies or government getting access to the contact records or Bluetooth pings, which would be stored on the individual devices.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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