Apple and Google have officially released their contact tracing API. In total, 22 countries and three American states have expressed interest in the API.
Google and Apple announced just seven weeks ago, that they were going to work together to combat the effects of the coronavirus. They developed an API that warns people if they have been near a person who has tested positive for the coronavirus. The API uses Bluetooth instead of GPS.
Smartphones must constantly broadcast an active Bluetooth signal in the background so that they can connect to other phones in the user’s immediate vicinity. If enough people use the technology, the API will register a log of smartphones that it has been in contact with.
A unique number is stored on smartphones. Users will be able to share their own unique log with the authorities, and this will ensure that users behind the stored numbers can be alerted if they have been in contact with someone with the coronavirus.
Apple and Google had to work hard to solve persistent problems. For example, it is now easier for iPhones and Android phones to detect each other, the new API no longer consumes as much battery as before, and the app has no significant impact on the performance of the device.
Users must first grant permission before they can use the new technology. They can revoke this permission at any time. Only health authorities will have access to the API, and there will only be one application per country or region. Earlier this month, Google and Apple announced requirements that all app developers must meet when developing the app.
Apple and Google claim that in developing the API, they focused on the privacy of the users. Applications that are released using their API cannot use GPS data to determine the location of the user. Also, the application cannot be turned on remotely by governments, and only essential data is collected by applications.
Critics feared that corona apps that use contact tracing were dangerous for society. They were afraid that governments would use the corona app as an excuse to identify the location of their citizens at all times. Apple and Google hope critics will be satisfied with the rules they have established and the precautions they have built into the API.
Apple and Google have also stated that they will remove the features from their operating system when the coronavirus disappears or a vaccin is available.