Apple and Google team on cross-platform COVID-19 contact tracing tool

Engineers at Apple and Google have teamed up to create a decentralized COVID-19 contact tracing tool that will help individuals determine whether they have been exposed to someone with the disease.

Across the world, governments and health authorities are working together to find solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic, to protect people and get society back up and running. Software developers are contributing by crafting technical tools to help combat the virus and save lives. In this spirit of collaboration, Google and Apple are announcing a joint effort to enable the use of Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus, with user privacy and security central to the design.

Apple Google COVID. Apple and Google team on cross-platform COVID-19 contact tracing tool

Apple and Google team on cross-platform COVID-19 contact tracing tool
Click for larger view (Source: Apple and Google)

Since COVID-19 can be transmitted through close proximity to affected individuals, public health officials have identified contact tracing as a valuable tool to help contain its spread. A number of leading public health authorities, universities, and NGOs around the world have been doing important work to develop opt-in contact tracing technology. To further this cause, Apple and Google will be launching a comprehensive solution that includes application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing. Given the urgent need, the plan is to implement this solution in two steps while maintaining strong protections around user privacy.

First, in May, both companies will release APIs that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities. These official apps will be available for users to download via their respective app stores.

Second, in the coming months, Apple and Google will work 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. Privacy, transparency, and consent are of utmost importance in this effort, and the companies look forward to building this functionality in consultation with interested stakeholders. Apple and Google will openly publish information about their work for others to analyze.

Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments and public health providers, the companies 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.

As part of this partnership, Google and Apple are releasing draft technical documentation including Bluetooth and cryptography specifications and framework documentation.

Source: Apple


  1. This might be really useful for contact tracing in the disease context, but it would be equally useful for contact tracing in the political “enemies list” context.

  2. So this is how it happens. They use a virus to break down the final barriers. I never believed until now that 1984 was really going to happen in the more “democratic” countries.

    Fear! Where is the MacDailyNews quote from Benjamin Franklin about giving up liberty for temporary safety? Isn’t that what everyone is lining up to do now? Even Apple.

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