Apple and Google released their Covid-19 exposure-notification tools along with changes that will help public health authorities gather more information on who has the virus.
The system called Exposure Notifications will help the authorities develop apps that notify users if they have come into contact with a person who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Users who’ve downloaded the app for their region will be able to update their status if they test positive. The iOS and Android system will then anonymously notify other users who have come into contact with that person.
“User adoption is key to success and we believe that these strong privacy protections are also the best way to encourage the use of these apps,” Apple and Google said in a statement.
Some governments criticized the system as it doesn’t let authorities store data on who has the virus and track where it is spreading.
It just notifies individuals if they have been exposed. This has also highlighted the privacy shortcomings of other approaches that user location data and store it on government servers.
The system is designed to work with one app per region, such as a country or state, to avoid fragmentation. The companies said multiple US states and 22 countries have requested and received access to the system.
The tools have been released via the iOS 13.5 update for iPhones released in the last four years, while Android phone users running Android 6.0 or later are receiving the system via a Google Play download.