Apple and Google join forces in fight against Covid-19

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Rival tech giants Apple and Google have joined forces to gear their digital expertise towards the fight against coronavirus.

The companies will create contact tracing technology to enable the use of Bluetooth to help governments and health authorities track the spread of the virus.

The solution will be interoperable with both iOS and Android devices using apps from public health bodies, allowing health services to view data from every person who has opted-in to trace Covid-19.

In May, the companies will release APIs to enable this app interoperability as the first step in their partnership.

The following months will see Apple and Google collaborate to enable a “broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms”.

“This is a more robust solution than an API and would allow more individuals to participate, if they choose to opt in, as well as enable interaction with a broader ecosystem of apps and government health authorities,” a statement from Apple said.

“Privacy, transparency, and consent are of utmost importance in this effort, and we look forward to building this functionality in consultation with interested stakeholders. We will openly publish information about our work for others to analyse.”

Several contact tracing apps are already under development. NHSX is trialling its version with families in the North of England but has remained tight-lipped on how the app will work and when it expects it to be rolled out across the country.

King’s College London in March launched a Covid-19 symptom reporting app to aid in slowing the outbreak by helping researchers determine how fast the virus is spreading in a particular area.

Apple and Google are the latest to join forces in the “spirit of collaboration” to reduce the spread of the virus.

“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,” a statement from Apple said.

“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.”

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