First Look At Apple and Google's Contact Tracing Software For COVID-19

Ever since the news about Apple and Google’s collaboration came out, the world had their eyes set on the tech giants to save them out from this global pandemic. And finally looking at the glimpses of the final product, we can most definitely say that both the companies have done a phenomenal job to convert every smartphone on Earth into a tracking device for COVID-19.

In new screenshots, that were released on Monday, we can now see the contract tracing software use Bluetooth to detect any smartphone that of the person who is close to you and has tested positive for COVID-19. Your device will alert you in timely manner so that you can take preventive measures.

The feature is expected to roll out by the end of this month and by then it will also be workable with COVID-19 apps that you have installed on your phone upon the request of government health agencies in your country. However, the exact kind of COVID-19 notification that the person receives will depend on the agencies.

With all the positives, experts have other opinions as well on the contrary as they believe that such a technology will have to face challenges in the form of false positives - as Bluetooth in any smartphone has the ability to catch signals even through walls. Hence, there has been no clarification on how Apple and Google tend to deal with that.

Furthermore, the verification of people’s COVID-19 status is another issue as there is a probability that some could falsely claim to have the virus or due to less testing kits in a lot of countries, many cases of coronavirus are still wandering unreported.

There are chances that Apple and Google are expecting the public health agencies to solve such problems as they will hand over the underlying app code to the governments if they want to experiment with the Bluetooth detection process. In fact, the screenshots also show that the public health agencies are given the option to input a unique “Diagnosis Key” to confirm if someone has been tested positive for COVID-19.

Here is a detailed overview of how the technology looks like:

The software depends on Bluetooth to keep a track of any infected person’s smartphone coming near. Hence, your GPS location data will always be safe with you.

People will be notified about coming in contact with the COVID-19 positive patient “sometime later”, which means that the updates won’t be real-time.

Following is the exact notification that users would receive if they have come close to any COVID-19 exposed person.

These notifications will also have official information and further steps that you should take along with the help of public health authorities involved.

Any person who has recently been infected with COVID-19 can report to the government health authorities. They verify the status and then update accordingly to notify people coming close to any such patient.

Another important factor is that Apple and Google want people to openly share their COVID-19 status with public health authorities so that the officials shouldn’t be able to extract information without your permission.

iPhone and Android users both will have the perk of setting the COVID-19 notifications on and off.

There are also FAQs published by both Google and Apple if you have more questions that have remained unanswered here.

Screenshots Hat Tip: Techcrunch.
Previous Post Next Post