Google to roll out coronavirus tracking updates to Android users directly via Google Play

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Google logo (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google has announced that it will be using Google Play Services to push the COVID-19 tracking system to Android phones.
  • The updates will be rolled out to all Android phones running Android 6.0 Marshmallow and above.
  • The first phase of Google and Apple's Bluetooth contact tracking framework is due next month.

Google joined hands with Apple last week to help governments and health agencies fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The two tech giants are working on contact tracing technology with protections for user privacy. As per a report from The Verge, Google has now confirmed that it will be updating Android phones with the upcoming contact tracing system via Google Play Services.

Google's decision to push the contact tracing system to Android phones via Google Play services certainly doesn't surprise us, since it is pretty much the only way that the company can ensure the system is rolled out to Android phones within a reasonable time frame.

Unfortunately, however, this also means that the technology will not be directly rolled out to Android phones sold in China, as well as Huawei phones sold around the world. While Google's Play services are banned in China, Huawei's latest phones do not ship with Google Play services due to the imposition of a trade ban by the U.S. Google plans to publish a framework for Huawei and other Chinese manufacturers, which will allow them to replicate the tracking system that it is developing in partnership with Apple.

In the first phase, which is due in May, Google will be rolling out APIs via Google Play Services to enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using official apps from public health authorities. In the second phase, the APIs will be built into the operating system, which would allow more individuals to participate in the Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform. The second phase is due "in the coming months."

Apple and Google announce partnership to help track COVID-19 infections

Babu Mohan
News Writer
  • When my grandfather told me about having to wear an arm band in Germany with the Star of David on it I didn't realize 70 years later I'd have an electronic one.
  • Could not agree more. Shocking how few people are caring about this.
  • That comparison is so ludicrous it's not even funny, frankly it's offensive.
  • I just want to go on record as agreeing with this comment before it gets removed for hurting people's feelings.
  • I agree with this. Next step "Get on this train, we are going to take you to a safe place, far away from all this COVID-19 virus." People need to wake up and really get their heads around this. Quit watching the news, educate yourselve sand then formulate a path forward.
  • Is there an opt out for this? Or more appropriately this should be 100% opt in! I'm all for doing my part for this pandemic, but boy does this reek of something primed for future abuse.
  • The pairing of private company interests with evil authoritarian policies in the name of the public good. People begging to have their privacy stripped from them for a false sense of security. This will not end well.
  • Right on the money.
  • Of course there are going to be tin-foil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorists coming out against this claiming this is one step away from infringing on rights.
    How else are we going to balance out the idiots who can't follow social distance rules claiming "it's ma rights". You're already being tracked. Don't like it, lose your phone.
  • Of course there are going to be people willing to go along with whatever authoritarian edicts the government puts out
  • Ad Hominem: the final argument of those who have no argument.
  • Global government tracking embraced by the masses. These are disturbing times. Please people, wake up!