May 20, 2020

Coronavirus: Apple and Google release API to make contact-tracing apps

Apple and Google have released a software tool that will make it possible for nations to release coronavirus contact-tracing apps that adopt the firms' privacy-centric model. "The release of these APIs along with the operating-system updates will be a watershed moment for the development and adoption of proximity-tracing apps," said Marcel Salathé, an epidemiologist at the Swiss research institute EPFL. "Going forward, our efforts have to be on ensuring interoperability across regions, which will be significantly easier now [for] apps based on the same protocol." Apple and Google said public health agencies from 22 countries had already asked to test their "Exposure notification" system's API. The app was not "a silver bullet" - but "User adoption is key to success and we believe that these strong privacy protections are also the best way to encourage use". Apps that adopt Apple and Google's API can customise it within certain limits. Its developers, Accenture, now intend to build in Apple and Google's API for a 10 June update so iPhone-users no longer have to bring the app on-screen for it to work effectively.

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