Apple and Google are collaborating on a new technology to track the spread of the coronavirus by using Bluetooth.
As reported by Reuters, the new technology could be available as early as mid-May for iPhone and Android devices.
The platform, which the companies called “Contact Tracing,” would alert smartphone users if they come into contact with an infected person.
The announcement by the California-based tech giants on Friday (April 10) came as the U.S. death count surpassed 18,000 and is forecast to reach 60,415 in the summer, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle.
“All of us at Apple and Google believe there has never been a more important moment to work together to solve one of the world’s most pressing problems,” the companies said in a statement. “Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments and public health providers, we hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday life.”
Apple said that since the virus can be transmitted through close contact with an infected person, the healthcare community agrees that contact tracing will help to end the spread.
In a blog post, Google said privacy is key. Users’ consent required is required, and the tool doesn’t collect personally identifiable information (PII), user location data or the list of people you’ve been in contact with. People who test positive are not identified to other users, and the contact tracing information will only be used by public health authorities for COVID-19 pandemic management.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a tweet on Friday that the project would be done in a way that honors “transparency” and “consent.”