The best way to squash COVID-19 after lockdown is contact tracing, and using a special app using Bluetooth has already been very successful in Asia for finding out who people are in contact with, who may then be referred for testing if they have been close to someone who has been infected.
Now Apple and Google have announced that they are working together to make it easier to develop such apps, and create their own version of a contact-tracing app at a later date.
An example is Singapore’s TraceTogether app below:
The OS-level API will allow interoperability between iOS and Android and will allow public health authorities, universities, and NGOs around the world to develop opt-in contact tracing technology. That solution will be available as soon as May and the official apps using them will become available in the official app stores.
Google and Apple are also working on a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms.
They note the feature will be opt-in with privacy, transparency and consent at its centre. The platform will, however, enable interaction with a broader ecosystem of apps and government health authorities. Google says they will openly publish information about their work for others to analyze.
The effort is another example of how the technology world has come together to fight this major threat to our way of life.