In mid-April, Apple and Google signalled an intent to collaborate on creating and sharing mobile tools to assist with contact tracing and tracking for COVID-19. This involved rolling out APIs to their respective app marketplaces a couple of months ago, and now the pair are readying to give health authorities more tools as far as notification for citizens goes.
Apple will be the first to do so with its roll out of iOS 13.7 to compatible iPhone devices in coming days and weeks, With Google noting that Android (6.0 or higher devices) users can expect the same later this month.
Focusing on iOS 13.7, this operating system update will now mean that users will not need to update the application of their local health authority, with it also assisting said authorities as the Exposure Notifications Express will work alongside their apps and not replace them.
This will also allow public health authorities with the ability to send both Apple and Google information with regard to COVID-19 contact, as well as guidance and other notifications when necessary. They will also be able to provide both tech firms with their logos, names and any other technical information needed for the purposes of sharing COVID-19-related notifications to citizens.
As Apple and Google explained back in April, with system will be opt-in for authorities, with 20 countries already said to be working with the organisations, of which South Africa is one.
With concerns initially being raised over privacy of these tools, both Apple and Google have noted that this latest roll out will continue to adhere to regulations and not feature any specific location data.
As the globe continues to fight the spread of COVID-19, it should prove interesting to see whether these tools will be used by more countries and health authorities in coming months.