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Apple And Google Give Details On Their Joint Coronavirus Contact Tracing Tool

Apple And Google Give Details On Their Joint Coronavirus Contact Tracing Tool

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG) subsidiary Google LLC on Monday gave further details on their joint efforts in developing a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) contact tracing tool in a telephone call with journalists, as reported by TechCrunch.

What Happened

The two technology behemoths, which power nearly all smartphones across the globe with their operating systems iOS and Android, announced the coronavirus contact tracing tool last Friday.

The Bluetooth-based system notifies a user if they have been recently in contact with another person who was diagnosed with the coronavirus.

In the latest call, Google and Apple said that the feature would be available on the "broadest number" of devices as possible, TechCrunch reported. Nearly three-fourth of iOS devices run the latest version of the operating system and will all receive the update.

Android devices with older system versions will still receive the update, Google added, according to TechCrunch.

The API for the tool, expected to launch in mid-May, would only be accessible for healthcare authorities as determined by local governments, the companies said.

Apple and Google further emphasized that the tool would be "decentralized" and prioritize user privacy, as they said at the time of the announcement.

All data will be processed on the user devices and "relayed through servers run by the health organizations across the world," thus minimizing the chance of government surveillance, Apple said, per TechCrunch.

The companies said the feature would notify potential contacts of a coronavirus patient based on the diagnosis criteria set by local authorities. Some governments may set the bar on a person testing positive for the coronavirus, and others could base it on symptoms alone.

Why It Matters

More than 1.9 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed across the globe, including 119,730 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

With the lack of a vaccine or other medication to tackle the virus, contact tracing has been one of the more useful ways for health authorities to curb its spread.

Identifying coronavirus clusters and imposing lockdowns to prevent further transmission has been a strategy employed by governments across the globe.

While the focus is on the pandemic, activists have pointed out the potential of privacy abuse by both governments and malicious entities, especially in countries where authoritarian regimes are already in place.

Both Google and Apple told journalists that they're putting privacy and security measures in place, but no servers are "unhackable."

Price Action

Apple shares closed nearly 2% higher at $273.25 on Monday and added another 0.5% in the after-hours session at $274.65.

Alphabet Class A shares closed 0.3% higher at $1,210.41 and added another 0.4% in the after-hours at $1,214.79. Class C shares closed 0.5% up at $1,217.56 and added another 0.4% in the after-hours at $1,221.95.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Apple and Google.


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