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Google, Apple partner to launch Covid-19 contact tracing tool


Tech giants Google and Apple have partnered to enable health authorities to track Covid-19 patients and also alert people who have been in contact with them.

The partnership will allow an estimated 3 billion people to opt in to location tracking through Bluetooth on their smartphones to combat coronavirus pandemic.

Users of the tool will be able to receive alerts if they came into contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19.

Since Covid-19 can be transmitted through proximity to affected persons, public health bodies have identified contact tracing as a valuable tool to help contain its spread.

Several leading public health authorities, universities and NGOs around the world have been doing critical work to develop opt-in contact tracing technology.

“To further this cause, Apple and Google will be launching a comprehensive solution that includes application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing,” Google and Apple announced on their respective websites.

Both tech companies said the initiative will involve two steps.

In May, both Apple and Google will release APIs that allow contact tracing through third-party apps issued by public health authorities.

Users of both iOS and Android devices can download the official apps through their respective app stores.

How it works

When two people are near each other, their phones can exchange an anonymous identification key, recording that they have had close contact. If one person is later diagnosed with Covid-19, they can share that information through an app.

The system will notify other users they have been in close contact with, so those people can self-quarantine if necessary.

Ideally, this means you will not have to reveal your name, location or other personal data.