Apple and Google collaborate to develop new tracking technology for contact history of coronavirus
Apr 2020

Kirsten Thomas

Apple and Google collaborate to develop new tracking technology for contact history of coronavirus

Governments and health authorities around the world are working together to find solutions to new outbreaks of pneumonia in order to protect people and restore society to normal operation. Software developers have also developed various technical tools to help fight viruses and save lives. In this spirit of cooperation, Google and Apple announced that they will work together to use Bluetooth technology to assist governments and health agencies to suppress the spread of viruses, and to design with user privacy and security in mind.

Because new coronary pneumonia is spread through close contact with infected people, public health agencies around the country have regarded the tracking of contact history as an important tool for controlling the epidemic. Some major public security authorities, universities and non-governmental organizations around the world are carrying out important work to develop contact history tracking technology that users can choose to join. To further promote this technology, Apple and Google will introduce comprehensive solutions, including application program interface (API) and operating system level technology, to help practice tracking contact history. In view of the imminent needs, this project will be implemented in two steps to implement the entire solution, while at the same time will strongly ensure the privacy of users.

First, the two companies will launch APIs in May of this year so that apps launched by public health agencies around the world can achieve interoperability between Android and iOS devices. Users will be able to download these official apps through the corresponding app store.

The second step, in the next few months, Apple and Google will include this feature in the underlying platform, and strive to make this contact history tracking platform based on Bluetooth technology have a wider effect. This is a more powerful solution than the API, which allows more individuals who choose to participate to participate, and allows the wider app ecosystem to interact with government health agencies. In this cooperation, privacy, transparency and consent to join are the most important considerations, and we look forward to working with stakeholders interested in this cooperation to build this feature. The content of our cooperation will be published publicly for others to analyze.

Everyone at Apple and Google believes that there is no more important moment than now, to work together to solve this world's most pressing problem. Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, local governments and public health suppliers, we hope to use the power of technology to help countries all over the world to slow down the spread of new pneumonia and accelerate the return to normal operations of daily life.

As part of this collaboration, Google and Apple are starting to release draft technical documents, including Bluetooth and encryption specifications and framework documents.