Apple and Google on Friday announced an unprecedented collaboration to leverage smartphone technology to help trace and contain the spread of coronavirus.
The collaboration will open up their mobile operating systems to allow for the creation of advanced “contact-tracing” apps, which will run on iPhones and Android phones alike.
The apps would work by using the Bluetooth technology in mobile phones to keep track of every other phone a person comes into close contact with over the course of a day; if that person later finds out they have Covid-19, they can use the same system to alert all those people, dating back to before they would have become infectious.
The idea is to help national governments roll out these contact-tracing apps to allow lockdowns to be lifted earlier, by letting authorities much more readily identify new clusters of infection.
The technology would also help those who have been exposed to a person with Covid-19 self-isolate before they themselves become infectious.Advertisement
Concerns are already being raised about the effectiveness of such technology and privacy concerns surrounding its implementation.
The companies are opting to use Bluetooth to track who has been in contact with Covid-19 cases rather than location services to protect some user privacy, but advocacy groups are still wary.