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Tech giants Apple and Google partner to launch COVID-19 tracing tool

Apple and Google have decided to launch a joint app to make it easier to track COVID-19 patients amid the ongoing Coronavirus
Apple and Google have decided to launch a joint app to make it easier to track COVID-19 patients amid the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic worldwide.

Reputed engineers of Apple and Google have been working on an app that acts as a contact tracing tool and determines whether someone has caught Coronavirus. This app will get released on both iOS and Android platforms. This will prove to be a handy tool for the public health authorities, and they can immediately take action and prevent the spread of the disease.

This application uses radios on the device to transmit Bluetooth to other nearby devices. The application determines the duration of time the nearby device was within the range of the phone the application was run.

If the person using that phone is diagnosed with Coronavirus, then the other person will get a warning through the application. Contact tracing tools are widespread now as the students of MIT had also created a mechanism similar to this.

The project was initially started two weeks back after the agreement of both the companies. The reason this application is jointly released is that the contact tracing tool is complicated to maintain and to avoid significant problems related to Bluetooth connectivity and privacy concerns.

To tackle this problem, Google and Apple teamed up to create an API that would allow a large number of users to join and connect.

There are two phases of this plan:

Phase 1:

A separate proximity contact detection application will be released in the second week of May by both Apple and Google. Users can access it through the Appstore and the Playstore. This application will ask for the users’ permission to opt for contact tracing, which will hence radiate anonymous identifiers to whomever the user meets.

Phase 2:

The second phase is much more efficient as the user won’t even need to download the application again. After the permission is granted, the tool automatically detects the location of the user and determines who is nearby. As the data of patients merged within the application, it shows a warning if the other user is diagnosed with Coronavirus.

How does it work?

To get a clear outlook on this, an example is given below.

  • Two people are nearby each other for 10 minutes. During this time, the phones of both the users exchange their anonymous ID.
  • Later on, one guy is diagnosed with Coronavirus, from the data of the Public Health Organisation, which is integrated into this application. Hence, a warning will be issued.
  • The application even guides the users on what to do next and also mentions the precautionary measures which should be taken.

User Privacy :

As mentioned in an interview, full privacy measures have taken by both Google and Apple. This application won’t reveal any private information about the user.

The application won’t even reveal the precise location as it just determines whether two users were nearby and the duration of that time. This was a factor that has been raised by the ACLU, and it got resolved soon.