Apple and Google jointly launch new tool to improve contact tracing apps

Google and Apple announce their joint Exposure Notification API is live

The technology is included in iPhone and Android updates released Wednesday.

Two of the world's largest tech giants Google and Apple are now ready with their contact tracing application programming interfaces (APIs) to help India and other countries track the spread of Covid-19.

The Verge reports that three USA states (the response is much more decentralised over there) are already working on apps that use the framework.

According to Techcrunch, a decentralized identifier system is used in the Exposure Notification API.

Yesterday afternoon, Apple and Google's highly anticipated contact-tracing tech was officially rolled out, with Apple already baking it into the backend of its latest update.

Google and Apple have built the API to maintain user privacy. The contact tracing API is now available.

Public health officials can now contact exposed individuals directly and provide them with the safety measures they should take based on the voluntarily submitted user data they have provided. It relies on Bluetooth wireless technology to detect when someone who downloaded the app has spent time near another app user who later tests positive for the virus.


Among technologists and privacy experts, there's skepticism that contact tracing apps will work well enough to be useful. This has the specific goal of rapid notification, which is especially important to slow the spread of the disease at a time when governments and public health agencies across the world are attempting to do just that.

Apple and Google said that public health officials from 22 countries had already asked for the system.

Thursday, Governor Kay Ivey announced more plans for reopening the state and announced a partnership with Google and Apple to make an app to help trace coronavirus in Alabama. But, the coronavirus-positive-person should also have the app-enabled on their smartphone for this system to work efficiently. The users will have full control to submit their COVID-19 positive diagnosis and to submit all keys associated to their devices with the public health authority.

The two companies said that access to the API has already been provided to many U.S. states and 22 countries to support their development efforts, expecting that more can be added moving forward.

The statement from the firms also included comments from state officials in North Dakota, Alabama and SC which appear to signal plans to use the new tech.

Many within the privacy community are focused on whether these types of applications meet the principles of "Privacy by Design", with much emphasis being placed on using decentralized tracing rather than location data stored in central databases. Our technology is created to make these apps work better. I tried to appeal, but it feel to deaf ears, and instead, a more privacy-invasive application is being pushed.

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