Google, Apple release jointly developed API for Covid-19 tracing apps

Alonzo Simpson
May 23, 2020

That's probably why representatives from Apple and Google spent a good amount of time on the press call emphasizing that the tech companies are merely providing an "enabling" technology, and that it's the health agencies that will be building the apps and making the decisions on when and how to contact the exposed.

In April, Apple and Google announced that they were developing a COVID-19 contract tracing tool. The developers believe that reliance on this standard will ensure widespread adoption and also compatibility over time with contact tracing apps around the world that are also expected to adopt the same exposure notification framework over time. Random Bluetooth identifiers are used to indicate proximity and no identifiable information is shared or logged.

"You get to a point where the phone is locked and the app is running in the background".

The app has been developed by representatives of the Latvian ICT sector and science, including the country's largest mobile operator LMT, software development companies MAK IT, Autentica and Zippy Vision, software testing service TestDevLab, experts from the University of Latvia, and startup community representative Andris K. Berzins.

The applications are allowed to combine the API and voluntarily submitted user data provided through individual apps to enable public health authorities to contact exposed users directly to make them aware of what steps they should take.

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While many jurisdictions have already released their own apps, like Australia who's COVIDsafe app has come under some fire for its effects on battery and Bluetooth as well as privacy concerns, many others have been waiting for this API to be finished to incorporate into their local solutions.

The technical challenges outlined by the companies suggest the COVIDSafe app is not able to collect all the data it was set out to do.

These two tech systems have been working on new tracing tools for public health organizations. While countries like America, Germany and Switzerland are embracing this new API for their own apps, other authorities have been less than accepting. Through this approach, public health officials contact, test, treat and advise people who may have been exposed to an affected person. You'd have to download it and give the app permission to use your blue tooth. You may wonder how these contact tracing apps will verify positive coronavirus tests, and guard against individuals flooding the digital system with fake positives. 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.

Despite the early excitement, virus detection apps built by Apple and Google are probably useless, according to health officials.

Their public launch means that health agencies can now use the API in applications released to the general public. Apps that expose the user's location have been barred from inculcating API.

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