Apple and Google collaborate on a new API to help track Covid-19 transmission
Covid-19 contact tracing has gone wireless and online as of late: it is enacted via APIs and the apps that use them in some Asian countries. This tech-driven strategy is also reportedly to be adopted in other countries such as Germany, the UK, Czechia and Italy soon. These nations may develop their own respective implementations; however, Google and Apple may have rendered this unnecessary with their own API and Bluetooth LE service for the same purpose.
This new package could enable public and health authorities to release apps that gather data on Covid-19 cases in a given area and push notifications to others in the same region on applicable risks. This, frankly, sounds like a cause for alarm in all relevant parties on several pressing levels. However, the 2 software giants assert that this new Contact Tracing API is user-consent dependent.
Furthermore, the 2 companies insist that it does not require locational or personal information. Then again, it does demonstrably need proximity data - which, apparently, will remain on-device. Therefore, a list of those affected or potentially affected by Covid-19 will appear on the phone in some form, but will remain on it - according to Apple and Google at least.
Nevertheless, this new tool has met with opposition in the media already. For example, The Verge now disputes its efficacy and safety, not the least because of the strong influences of user uptake, confidence and consent that act on it. Nevertheless, this new API is to become available through a Google Play Services update, and via an update to iOS.