Google and Apple said they have launched the Exposure Notification technology for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The technology is a software tool kit that would notify someone if they may have come in contact with a person that was diagnosed with COVID-19.
The companies said the Exposure Notification has the specific goal of rapid notification, which is especially important to slow the spread of the disease with a virus that can be spread asymptomatically.
In a joint release the duo said, “what we’ve built is not an app—rather public health agencies will incorporate the API into their apps that people install. Our technology is designed to make these apps work better. Each user gets to decide whether or not to opt-in to Exposure Notifications; the system does not collect or use location(s) from the device; and if a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is up to them whether or not to report that in the public health app. User adoption is key to success and we believe that these strong privacy protections are also the best way to encourage the use of these apps.”
However, Apple and Google’s joint effort has been met with criticism specifically over both companies’ privacy rules surrounding the technology.
Health officials have said the software won’t be useful because while it will notify smartphone users if they’ve come into contact with an infected person, it won’t share those locations, according to an article from The Washington Post.
Tech giants are leaping into the battle against COVID-19. Earlier this week, Verily – the former life sciences arm of Google and an Alphabet company, launched the Baseline COVID-19 Research Project to initially tackle antibody testing.
And last week, Microsoft announced a collaboration with UnitedHealth to launch an App that would screen for COVID-19 symptoms.