Apple, Google partner on COVID-19 contact tracing tech initiative

Technology giants Apple and Google are teaming up to develop a technology solution for contact tracing the spread of COVID-19 infections amid a growing global pandemic.

"A number of leading public health authorities, universities, and NGOs around the world have been doing important work to develop opt-in contact tracing technology. To further this cause, Apple and Google will be launching a comprehensive solution that includes application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing. Given the urgent need, the plan is to implement this solution in two steps while maintaining strong protections around user privacy," Apple said in a statement on its website. Google published an identical statement on its site.

The first stage will see the two firms "release APIs that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities. These official apps will be available for users to download via their respective app stores."

After that, "Apple and Google will work to enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms." The timeline isn't precisely clear at this moment, with the firms saying that this process will take place "in the coming months."


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Such a platform is likely to inspire privacy concerns, and in the message, the tech giants sought to assuage such perspectives.

"Privacy, transparency, and consent are of utmost importance in this effort, and we look forward to building this functionality in consultation with interested stakeholders. We will openly publish information about our work for others to analyze," the firms said.

The move comes days after Google unveiled an effort to publish aggregated, anonymous data to be used in COVID-19 relief efforts.

As CNBC reported on Thursday, Apple assisted Stanford Medicine in the development of an app that connects first-responder personnel to in-person testing sites.