Google and Apple to Release Contact-Tracing App to Fight COVID-19

Will this be the end of the pandemic?
Google and Apple to Release Contact-Tracing App to Fight COVID-19
Contact-tracing is a system that has been in use since 2014 in China. Source: AFP

The pandemic drove all ecosystems to collaborate, pushing competition aside – or at least away from the eyes of the public. In the absence of the third rival, Microsoft, Google and Apple decided to join hands to streamline a controversial technology China has been using since 2014.

On April 10th, Google and Apple announced that they’re joining forces to stem the spread of COVID-19. By May, both companies would have released APIs (Application Programming Interface) to allow interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities. These apps will be available for users to download via their respective app stores.

“All of us at Apple and Google believe there has never been a more important moment to work together to solve one of the world’s most pressing problems. Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments and public health providers, we hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday life.”Google

In the coming months, Apple and Google will work to enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact-tracing platform by building this functionality into both operating systems.

Google argues that this a more robust solution than an API and would allow more individuals to participate, if they choose to opt in, as well as enable interaction with a broader ecosystem of apps and government health authorities.

In 2019, right before the pandemic came into existence, Google’s Project Zero researchers published a paper exposing a two-year long vulnerability in iPhones. Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) was able to collect five separate, complete and unique iPhone exploit chains, covering almost every version from iOS 10 to iOS 12. This indicated a group making a sustained effort to hack the users of iPhones in certain communities over a period of at least two years.

Fast forward to 2020, both companies claim that privacy, transparency, and consent are of utmost importance in this effort. Thus, Google will openly publish information about their work for others to analyze.

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