Apple and Google have been working on a contact tracing tool since April to help identify potential cases of COVID-19. The two tech companies have now shared more information on the system including sample interface design for potential apps as well as restrictions on how it will be used.
The interface samples give an idea of how the automatic exposure notification will work. It shows how specific alerts would appear as well as how Apple and Google plan to ensure user privacy and consent. The two companies have also shared a library of reference code— an SDK for Android and an Xcode toolkit for iOS, which they believe will serve as “a starting gun” for app development by health agencies.
Apple and Google have also laid out rules to use the contact tracing applications. The public-sector partners would be expected to use the system only for COVID-19 response efforts and require opt-in consent before accessing the API or sharing a positive diagnosis. The apps will be restricted from using Location Services and cannot allow any form of targeted advertisement.
If the health agencies have existing apps with targeted advertising or location services, they will need to turn off those systems before they access the API.
The contact tracing system works through Bluetooth Low Energy signals to track people who have come in contact with a person diagnosed positively for the coronavirus.
Earlier, Apple and Google made a series of technical announcements regarding their contact tracing system underlining the use of encrypted keys to preserve the non-exposed user’s privacy. The companies have confirmed to discontinue the system as soon as the public health crisis is over.