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CORONAVIRUS: Google & Apple develops an App that alerts users of any close infected person

We have developed a smartphone application that alert users when coronavirus patient is around.

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We have developed a smartphone application that alert users when coronavirus patient is around.

Google and Apple have unveiled a joint initiative to develop a coronavirus smartphone “contact tracing” application that could potentially alert users when they have crossed paths with an infected person.

The move brings together the largest mobile operating systems to use smartphone location technology to track coronavirus patients and potentially contain the global spread.

The Application would allow smartphones powered by Apple software and Google-backed Android operating system to exchange information with a joint “opt-in system” using Bluetooth wireless technology.

The companies next month plan to release software interface technology to allow for interoperability will enable an alert work regardless of the operating system.

The Apple and Android combined will essentially power the world’s smartphone application, so working together would be required to effectively trace coronavirus contacts based on mobility data, according to analysts.

“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 than now.”

Tracking people’s movements using their smartphones with a temptingly powerful tool for containing the coronavirus comes with privacy concerns and fears regarding how the data might be misused.

“Contact tracing can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and can be done without compromising user privacy.” Apple chief executive Tim Cook said in a tweet.

Apple and Google contended that “privacy, transparency, and consent” were top priorities in the joint initiative, addressing concerns about systems that could disclose personal data on individuals.

Apple has long made user privacy a selling point for iPhones and is bringing those credentials to the coronavirus collaboration, noted Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi.

“Apple is providing its privacy seal, of sorts, to what is being done,” Milanesi said. “That is good.”

However, neither Apple nor Google can guarantee what ultimately becomes of mobility data gathered for the coronavirus fighting effort warned analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights and Strategy.

“You put these two companies’ ecosystems together and you have 100 percent of mobile data,” Moorhead said.

Technology-enabled or digital contact tracing has played a “conspicuously visible” part of the pandemic responses of South Korea, Singapore, Israel, and other nations, a law professor and privacy researcher Ryan Calo said in Senate testimony.

“I understand the intuition behind digital contact tracing,” Calo said in prepared remarks.

“But I see the gains in the fight against the virus as unproven and the potential for unintended consequences, misuse, and encroachment on privacy and civil liberties to be significant.”

The companies said in a joint statement that the move comes with governments around the world studying or implementing measures to use smartphone location technology to identify people with the virus and keep them from infecting others, even as the efforts raise privacy and civil liberties concerns.

However, US President Donald Trump said during a press briefing that the government would take “a very strong look” at the contact-tracing collaboration.


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