Google and Apple are now partnering up to develop a contact tracing technology to be used on Android and iOS devices.
The two companies have jointly released a statement through their respective websites announcing the collaboration.
It is rare to see Google and Apple dive into a major project together, considering that their respective mobile platforms – Android and iOS – are competing for usage among smartphone users across the globe.
But with the coronavirus continuing to spread around the world, the two global brands are setting aside the competition, for now, to make way for collaboration.
“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 two companies stated through the release.
“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.”
According to Google and Apple, the two companies are planning to execute a two-phase plan in developing the contact tracing tech that would work on Android and iOS devices.
The first part of the plan is to roll out APIs that should allow interoperability between Android and iOS smartphones, especially those that have mobile apps from healthcare authorities installed.
The idea here is that even if these official apps were downloaded separately from Google Play or from the App Store, they should still work together in enabling the Bluetooth-powered contact tracing technology between different users who willingly opt-in to activate the system.
Both Google and Apple are targeting to launch the APIs by next month.
As for the second part of the plan, it involves setting up “a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms,” per the joint statement.
As noted by TechCrunch, the overall purpose of the plan’s second phase is to integrate the contact tracing tool into the OS itself.
Not only will this deliver more efficiency in making the system work, it would also bring easier adoption by mobile users, mainly because they won’t need to download the app anymore (it is already built in the OS).
What about the official healthcare apps in the first plan? According to the tech giants, those apps will still be supported, even the second phase is already in play.
The use of contact tracing technology to combat COVID-19 has gained some traction in the last few weeks.
Still, concerns over privacy remain with regards to the technology, especially those tracing apps that make use of location tracking.
Images courtesy of Google and Unsplash
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