What you need to know
- Apple and Google have launched their Exposure Notifications technology.
- The technology is now available to developers as an API to integrate with public health apps.
- This is the first phase of their plan to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Today, Apple and Google have announced that they are making their Exposure Notifications technology available to public health agencies across the world.
In a joint statement, the companies announced that the API, which health agencies can use to incorporate the technology into their apps, is now available to developers on both iOS and Android.
Apple and Google stress that users have the option to opt-in to Exposure Notifications, the technology does not track their location, and that it is up to the individual to report potential exposure to the public health app they may be using. For iPhone owners, users must update to iOS 13.5 in order to have access to Exposure Notifications. Android users will receive the update automatically through Google Play Services.
They also note that widespread user adoption of this technology is critical to its success and both companies believe that the privacy-centric focus of their technology will accomplish that task.
You can read the full statement from Apple and Google below:
One of the most effective techniques that public health officials have used during outbreaks is called contact tracing. Through this approach, public health officials contact, test, treat and advise people who may have been exposed to an affected person. One new element of contact tracing is Exposure Notifications: using privacy-preserving digital technology to tell someone they may have been exposed to the virus. Exposure Notification has the specific goal of rapid notification, which is especially important to slowing the spread of the disease with a virus that can be spread asymptomatically.
To help, Apple and Google cooperated to build Exposure Notifications technology that will enable apps created by public health agencies to work more accurately, reliably and effectively across both Android phones and iPhones. Over the last several weeks, our two companies have worked together, reaching out to public health officials scientists, privacy groups and government leaders all over the world to get their input and guidance.
Starting today, our Exposure Notifications technology is available to public health agencies on both iOS and Android. What we've built is not an app — rather public health agencies will incorporate the API into their own apps that people install. Our technology is designed to make these apps work better. Each user gets to decide whether or not to opt-in to Exposure Notifications; the system does not collect or use location from the device; and if a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is up to them whether or not to report that in the public health app. User adoption is key to success and we believe that these strong privacy protections are also the best way to encourage use of these apps.
Today, this technology is in the hands of public health agencies across the world who will take the lead and we will continue to support their efforts.