Apple and Google are working together to create a technology that can alert you if you have recently come in contact with a person infected with the coronavirus.
Initially, Apple and Google will make sure that the third party contact tracing apps that are currently available work properly.
But their real goal is to create a technology that does not require any app downloads.
Apple and Google believe that this strategy will solve the problem for those who are concerned about privacy. Because there will be no mention of the names of those who will use this technology.
Basically, using the Bluetooth signal on a smartphone can tell if someone has been to a person infected with a coronavirus and if they have been there long enough that they may have been infected.
If the test later reveals that a person has COVID-19, it will be alert him by sending alerts to the smartphones of other people approaching him.
However, no GPS location data or personal information will be recorded on the smartphone.
How this technology will work
Suppose Jennifer and John meet in a park. They do not know each other. For ten minutes they talked.
Since they’ve been around for a while, their smartphones automatically exchanged a ‘key code’.
A few days later, John’s COVID-19 test came back positive. John then reported it on an app on his smartphone. With the consent of the people, the smartphone then shared this information with a central database.
Jennifer’s smartphone was connected to the Central Database and it was found that one of the people she had met recently had been caught with COVID-19. Then a message came on Jennifer’s smartphone warning her.
‘Privacy will not be compromised’
Apple and Google said in a joint statement that their efforts to innovate the new technology would focus on “privacy, transparency and consent”. Together with other partners in the sector, they hope to create this technology.
President Trump says his administration needs some time to consider this new initiative.
“It’s very interesting, but a lot of people are worried about personal freedom,” he told a WH (White House) news conference.
“We have to look into the matter and then we will let you know as soon as possible.”
The European Union’s data protection supervisor, meanwhile, said in a statement: “This initiative will need to be further reviewed. That’s the point.
But many say the success of the initiative will depend on whether enough people are being tested for the virus.
Most of the smartphones used in the world run on operating systems made by Apple or Google.
Some countries – such as Singapore, Israel, South Korea and Poland – are already using such technology to send warnings about the risk of infection on people’s smartphones.
Health authorities in several other countries, including Britain, France and Germany, are working on their own initiative. In some areas of the United States, municipal authorities are working through third-party apps like them.
Google and Apple want to bring all the initiatives into one system. As a result, when a person travels from one country to another with a smartphone, this system will still work.
If their initiative is successful, it will be possible to ease the lockdown and border restrictions imposed in different countries.
By mid-May, the two companies will jointly unveil a software building block, known as ‘application programming software’.
Other apps will then be able to run on the same basis.
The information that will be collected by the user through this technology will be stored on the remote computer server. But it will not be possible to reveal the real identity of a user.
And it will be up to the person infected with the coronavirus to find out which people came in contact with his smartphone, not centrally.
As a result, when someone is asked to go to the quarantine by sending an alert on the phone, only that person will know, others will not know.
Apple and Google say another advantage of their technology is that those who create apps will run their apps on both iOS and Android operating systems. There will be no problem here.
And they’re hoping that the technology will reduce battery consumption compared to the contact tracing apps we have now.