Apple and Google companies have started testing their joint contact tracing system, which will help public health authorities track the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The two companies are releasing an early version, and it's called COVID-19 Exposure Notification in iOS.
Contact-tracing apps are designed to automatically log when two people come into proximity to each other for a significant amount of time. If one is later diagnosed with the coronavirus, the other can be given an alert, which might suggest they self-isolate and/or request a medical test of their own.
The software relies on Bluetooth wireless technology to detect when someone who downloaded the app has spent time near another app user who later tests positive for the virus. It is much safer in comparison to other applications as it does not use Global Positioning System (GPS) technology.
Apple released a beta version of Xcode 11.5 and the third beta of iOS 13.5 on 29 April, which is what's enabling developers to incorporate the API into their apps. It also provides public health authorities with the code needed for their health apps. Google released similar updates for Android developers and public health authorities through Google Play Services and Android Developer Studio.
In a statement, Apple and Google said, "Starting today, our Exposure Notifications technology is available to public health agencies on both iOS and Android."