Apple and Google, behemoths in the tech industry, are doing what they don’t often do… working together on a project, a project that is intended to let people know if someone around them has exposed them to COVOD-19 recently.
The two tech giants announced that together they have developed a new contact-tracing tool that will be embedded into the operating systems of their smartphones natively, removing the need to develop a separate contact tracing app.
In April the two companies came together to build a tool to track the spread of coronavirus, designing a system that uses bluetooth to sense and then register securely when other phones, and their users, come nearby, and then, if anyone contracts the coronavirus that has been logged, it sends an alert to the phone user.
According to Apple and Google, the encryption of the user data it accumulates is virtually impossible to access, meaning you can’t find out who your phone says was close to you, and if you receive an alert that someone that was close to you has reported that they ave COVID-19, you won’t be able to find out who it is, just that you might need to consider quarantining, or getting tested.
In “version one” of the system it required public health authorities to develop their own apps that users would have to download to be able to use the contact tracing function. The current version, called Exposure Notifications Express, doesn’t need a custom app in order to function. Smartphone users will now be notified about the new function when they upgrade the software on their phone.
Of course, in order for the system to work, users must log in on their phone that they have contracted COVID-19.
There are critics who say that unless a majority of people in an area are correctly using the system, the overall effect might be minimal.