At the Easter weekend, Good Friday to be more precise, Apple and Google announced that they would be collaborating on a COVID-19 contact tracing tool that is aimed at using Bluetooth technology to better trace the spread of the virus between people in close proximity to one another.
The Bluetooth aspect of the collaborative project is only set to be available in coming months, but in May, both organisations will be making APIs available for those users making use of apps from recognised health authorities.
“First, in May, both companies will release APIs that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities. These official apps will be available for users to download via their respective app stores,” explained the pair in a press release.
For those users with an Android device, Google confirms that the APIs and Bluetooth tracing tool will be facilitated via Google Play Services. This as it is the quickest way to port the functionality to as many Android devices as possible without a fully fledged OS update being required.
In terms of the devices that will receive the APIs and Bluetooth tracing, which Google says is opt-in only, users with a smartphone running Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) or better are listed by the firm.
As for those manufacturers that use Android, but have a custom Mobile Services platform, namely Huawei and a few other Chinese firms, Google says it will make a framework available for those companies to replicate. It will then be up to those firms to distribute the APIs and Bluetooth tracing.
With several questions still surrounding this collaborate project, and in particular the use of data it will require, it remains to be seen how consumers will respond to the upcoming tools, and whether it is something that will be utilised in other ways after the COVID-19 pandemic.