Google and Apple Focus Efforts on COVID-19 Tracing TechnologyBy José Escobedo | Tue, 05/05/2020 - 18:10
Tech giants Apple and Google are getting closer to releasing a COVID-19 tracking technology. This would be presented as an app on phones that would also share sample pieces of code for local governments. The companies have been working on designing the app for over a month now and its main function is to alert users if someone they have been in contact with over the past 14 days comes down with COVID-19, reports CNET. During the announcement of the project, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google head Sundar Pichai promised the public that the app would be released considering all aspects of privacy.
During the testing period for the tracking technology, company representatives presented how people can activate the system and turn on notifications in case they are exposed to someone confirmed to have the virus, reports CNET. Throughout the presentation they demonstrated how health officials will be able to detect a person’s COVID-19 diagnosis by keying a code into the patient’s phone, reported Google and Apple. What is interesting is that health officials will be able to ask the patient if they want to anonymously warn people that they have been in contact with the virus over the previous two weeks.
The project will be released later in 2020 and will be available for approximately 2 billion phones around the world, according to Google and Apple. For now, tech developers are starting to share code and releasing test versions of iOS and Android operating software to help health officials get started, reported officials. Company representatives of Google and Apple in a call with journalists discussed what measures they would take to control who has access to the technology and what course of action they will take in order to guarantee people’s privacy.
CNET reports that other companies are actively working on ways to identifying people with the virus. Such is the case of Verily. The company lunched a website that provides information to people in California about virus testing. This website was developed in partnership with the White House and it prompts people to complete an online screener by filling in their COVID-19 symptoms. Apple has also designed a website and app to provide crucial information to people about the virus. Google and Apple have added prominent links to COVID-19 information on their respective news aggregation apps and homepages. They have also begun making and distributing protective equipment for healthcare workers.