Even as the Coronavirus continues its deadly run across the globe, two of the world’s largest tech giants, Apple and Google have joined hands to build a smartphone tool for contact tracing and potentially containing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Under a joint initiative, iPhones with Apple software and Google-backed Android operating system will exchange information through a voluntary contact tracing mechanism.
A joint statement by the two companies says, “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 new system will use Bluetooth low energy technology built into smartphones to collect extensive data on phones that have been near each other.
The users who download the App can report if they’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19. This data can be accessed by health agencies to identify individuals who have come in contact with an infected person and with others.
The system will also alert people who have the App on their smartphones as to whether they were in close contact with an infected person.
Apple and Google are set to launch a pair of iOS and Android APIs or Application Programming Interface in mid-May. This will let iPhones and Android phones share information through applications provided by public health authorities.
However, the companies are working on building the mechanism into the operating systems of the iPhones and Androids.
“Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments and public health providers, we hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday life,” the joint statement says.
Both companies have also assured the users that “privacy, transparency, and consent” are top priorities in the joint initiative.