Apple and Google join forces to combat COVID-19

Published at Apr 17, 2020, in Ctrl Alt Del

Apple and Google are coming together to help try to solve one of the world’s most pressing problems: how to slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday life.

Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments and public health providers, the two tech giants hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world combat the virus.

They will join myriad software developers already contributing to the cause by crafting technical tools to help combat the virus and save lives.

The joint effort between Google and Apple will see them working together 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.

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.

In May, the 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.

Then, in the months after, 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 will be of the highest importance and the companies will openly publish information about their work for others to analyse.

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

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