Apple and Google team up to create a universal tool that will track COVID-19 infections

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The two great rivals in telephony, Apple and Google, have joined forces to fight the coronavirus. They have been working together for two weeks on a universal tool that will allow tracking of COVID-19 infections, to notify people who have been in contact with those infected. The privacy and anonymity of all those involved will be maintained at all times.

The big problem with the coronavirus is that many people do not have symptoms until the disease is detected, or once they discover it, they cannot notify all those who have been in contact with them.

Health authorities believe that tracing infected and contacted people is an effective measure to prevent the spread of the virus. But how is this accomplished without invading privacy? This is where Apple and Google come in, with the help of Bluetooth.

Google and Apple will team up to track spread of coronavirus with ...

Several countries, including Spain, are developing apps for tracking infections, including at the level of municipalities and local authorities. The problem is that these tools are developed quickly to use them as soon as possible, and in some cases, privacy is not guaranteed, or security is not a priority. At the same time, the different apps do not share data with each other, so their scope is limited.

What Apple and Google are doing is developing a joint tool that works on both iOS and Android phones, sharing all the data. It is a tool that prioritizes privacy and security so that personal data is not leaked.

The idea is that all contagion data is centralized and shared. All apps of this type will share data, which Apple and Google will be responsible for protecting and anonymizing, and thus will be much more useful and secure.

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How is this tool going to work? When two people with a COVID-19 tracking app installed approach with Bluetooth enabled, which only has a range of a few meters, they exchange an anonymous key.

If one of those people, days later, detects that they have the coronavirus and communicates it to the app (always anonymously), all the people with whom they have exchanged their password will receive a notification on their mobile indicating that they have been in contact with an infected person.

Of course, this does not mean that they are, but it is very useful to take precautions if they have people at risk nearby or to get tested.

Apple and Google will launch the first API in May that will allow the exchange of data between iOS and Android apps, to later launch the tool that works with Bluetooth.

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