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Apple and Google begin testing APIs to track contacts of patients with COVID-19

01.05.2020 0 Comments

Apple and Google begin testing APIs to track contacts of patients with COVID-19

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Apple and Google intend to join forces to help healthcare authorities track the spread of COVID-19. Companies will provide an initial version of their contact notification APIs to a small number of developers working on applications for public health organizations. After testing the API for several weeks, it is planned to provide access to it for a wider list of developers – around mid-May.

The collaboration of two technology companies was announced earlier this month. Their joint project provides for the creation of a system that will track user contacts based on the exchange of data between smartphones via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Smartphones users exchange identification keys, which are constantly changing, while maintaining the anonymity of the owner of the device. All keys with the permission of users are uploaded to the cloud and stored there for 14 days. In the future, if a person becomes infected with COVID-19 and enters the test results into the application of a local healthcare organization, he can allow the system to send an alert to other people with close contact through the API. But since all the data is anonymous, other users will receive only information that they had contact with the infected person, as well as instructions with further actions. In this case, no information is transmitted about the identity or location of the patients.

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Apple has released the beta version of Xcode 11.5 and the third beta version of iOS 13.5. At the same time, the beta version of Xcode 11.5 includes developer tools that contain the desired API, and the beta version of iOS 13.5 includes the code needed to launch future applications from health authorities. Google has released similar updates for Google Play Services and Android Developer Studio.

Public health authorities will track the so-called probable contacts, using this API to calculate the approximate distance between smartphones and the time spent in the immediate vicinity. Both of these indicators are calculated on users' end smartphones and are not transferred to companies.

On Friday, Apple and Google will release a sample code that should show developers how to create applications using this system. In the second phase of the project, which is expected in the coming months, notification of probable contacts will be built directly into iOS and Android.

Source: The Verge

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