SAN FRANCISCO: Apple and Google on Friday announced a joint effort to enable the utilization of Bluetooth technology to assist governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the new coronavirus, with user privacy and security central to the design.
Both these internationally acclaimed million-dollar tech giants will launch a comprehensive solution that has application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to help in enabling contact tracing.
Given the urgent need, the plan is to implement this solution in two steps while maintaining strong protections around user privacy, Apple said during a statement
First, in May, the tech giants will release APIs that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities.
These official apps are going to be available for users to download via their respective app stores.
"Second, within 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," they informed.
"Contact tracing can help slow the spread of COVID-19 can surely be avoided compromising user privacy. We're working with @sundarpichai & @Google to assist health officials to harness Bluetooth technology in a way that also respects transparency & consent," tweeted Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Contact tracing can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and can be done without compromising user privacy. We’re working with @sundarpichai & @Google to help health officials harness Bluetooth technology in a way that also respects transparency & consent. https://t.co/94XlbmaGZV— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) April 10, 2020
As the novel coronavirus is known to easily transmit through touch or close proximity of affected people, the officials belonging to the public health sector have revealed that contact tracing is a tool of utmost value right now, in order to stop the virus from getting spread further,
"Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments and public health providers, we hope to harness the facility of technology to assist countries all around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday standard of life," said Apple.
Both the companies will also be releasing draft technical documentation also cryptography and Bluetooth specifications and documentations related to the framework.
"Privacy, transparency, and consent are of utmost importance during this effort, and we are also anticipating building together this functionality in consultation with interested stakeholders. We'll openly publish information about our work for others to go through," said Apple.