Tech giants Apple and Google recently collaborated on developing a unified Coronavirus tracker. The two companies are currently working towards pushing out the first version of their COVID-19 tracing technology. The trackers function to alert people if they have been exposed to the virus. Now the companies have also formally announced that the service will be shut once the pandemic is over. As per the companies, this will be done on a region to region basis. Also Read - Google Live Captions could soon bring real-time transcribing to phone calls
The move is logical considering the working of the trackers may be viewed by some as an invasion of privacy. Regardless, for now, the first version of the tracker will make its way to developers by next week. Partnering tech companies have also made changes to the tracker’s working. These will help it become more secure as well as accurate. Also Read - Google to make identity verification mandatory for all advertisers
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One of the changes mentioned above is the encryption of the metadata that is shared over Bluetooth. Encryption helps preserve the identity of the device, which can otherwise be inferred from the metadata. Also Read - Google Stadia user base surges after free 2 month offer, mobile app crosses 1 million installs
Google and Apple will also rely on registered health authorities to build apps that use their APIs (application programming interface). This also improves the fidelity of information that authorities can take from their respective applications. One such feature is the day count since the last possible exposure event. This lets you know how many days have passed since the last event where you could have been exposed to the Coronavirus.
The APIs will also be able to share other useful information during exposure events. This includes the distance between two smartphones (and hence, two people) to determine the likeliness of an exposure. This will include both smartphones running on Google Android and Apple’s iOS. Then there is also the amount of time the phone was in an exposure event.
When will Google and Apple users get the tracker
To use the technology, users will be required to download an application from a verified health authority. The first major public rollout for the app is set to happen somewhere in mid-May. Later on, the technology is expected to come baked into the Google Android and iOS operating systems itself.