Apple and Google unveiled an ambitious effort Friday to help combat coronavirus, introducing new tools that could soon allow owners of smartphones to know if they have crossed paths with someone infected with the disease.
Apple and Google are planning to harness Bluetooth. With the aid of this technology, public-health officials soon can deploy apps with the ability to sense other smartphones nearby.
If a person learns they have coronavirus, they could indicate on their app they’ve been infected — and people whose smartphones have been in their vicinity would be notified, regardless of whether their devices run on Apple’s or Google software. Is it a little creepy? Yes. Will it be helpful in slowing the spread? Probably.
Apple and Google said they expect to make tools available to developers to assemble such contact tracing apps as soon as mid-May, with further enhancements to the operating systems that would expand the system’s reach to follow.
“All of us at Apple and Google believe there has never been a more important moment to work together to solve one of the world’s most pressing problems,” they said in a joint statement.
“Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments, and public health providers, we hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday life.”