Two of the biggest tech companies in the world are joining forces to help combat the coronavirus pandemic. The tool (still in the development stages) relies on Bluetooth technology to allow both Android and iOS phones to communicate with each other and warn their users about possible COVID-19 infection based on who they’ve been in contact with. Initial launch on the iOS App Store and Google Play Store is planned for May this year, and the dual tech giants are already looking at building the feature into iOS and Android software in the coming months in order to save battery life.
The app will have opt-in functionality, meaning that users will need to decide whether they want to activate the tracking feature or not. If activated, the app will notify you if you have crossed paths with someone who has subsequently tested positive for coronavirus. The creators have assured the public that no other personal or sensitive information will be collected through the data and that once the pandemic has abated, the tracking tool will be shut down. A major benefit is that collectively Apple and Google have a very strong stake in the smart device market globally, providing the necessary user numbers required for the system to work effectively.
This latest announcement of contact tracing is by no means the first since the pandemic struck. Many other companies have been developing symptom checking and contagion map apps, while others still have website tabs dedicated solely to COVID-19 education and information. Google and Apple have both started producing and distributing essential equipment for health care services and Google recently pledged $800 million to aid relief workers and small businesses during the pandemic.
Apple has also teamed up with Stanford University on an app that allows first responders to locate drive through COVID-19 testing stations. Google has its own COVID-19 information website and has been in talks with various US governmental bodies to learn more about how its features can be used to help both the public and relief workers prevent further spread of the virus. We hope that the new partnership goes far in setting a precedent for other tech players to follow suit in doing their bit to flatten the curve.