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Google and Apple partner to launch contact tracing app

Published May 21, 2020


CAPE TOWN- International tech giants, Google and Apple have teamed up to launch Covid-19 contact tracing software which notifies people if they may have come into contact with someone who has the virus.

It is now well known that coronavirus can be transmitted through close proximity and public health officials across the global have identified contact tracing as a valuable tool to help contain its spread.

The companies said that the application programming interface (API) enables interoperability between Android and iOS devices. The official apps will be available this month for users to download via their respective app stores.

22 countries and some U.S. states have requested access to the new API in the hopes of harnessing technology to accelerate exposure notification.

The software utilizes Bluetooth radios within smartphones, and keeps a list of all the smartphones near it. If someone gets the virus and logs in on the app, their phone can alert every other device in its list.

The concept of contract tracing is that all the people the sick person has interacted with are contacted so those exposed can take appropriate action, such as self-quarantine.

User privacy and security is central to the design and no one’s identity is compromised, says the tech giants. The API uses a Bluetooth signal and notifies the smartphone user when the radio recognizes other people who have downloaded an app that uses the software.

This joint effort may help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus.

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