Apple and Google announced last week that they were working together to make it possible for apps to trace people who have come into contact with coronavirus carriers. But there were tons of questions remaining – like who will have access to the API that the pair are setting up?
We now know a bit more information, starting with the fact that the API will only be available to developers working for recognized health authorities.
Users will be able to download the required app for their region as of next month, with software updates for phones coming at the same time.
We can also expect further updates for iPhones and Android phones later this year that will remove the need for an app at all, bringing contact-tracing to the system.
Contact tracing will work by creating a unique identifier for every device that’s being used. When someone reports that they have tested positive for coronavirus everyone they have come into contact with will receive a notification suggesting that it might be time to get a test of their own.
Whether at the app or system level, users will need to opt into this contact-tracing feature. While some will no doubt not do it over misguided privacy concerns, it’s clear that participation makes plenty of sense. The sooner you know that you’ve come into contact with the virus, the sooner you can act. And that means staying away from people who are vulnerable, too.
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