The Coronavirus tracking app people need the most at unprecedented testing time. Companies are leaving no stone unturned to make anything that could come as a relief to billions of people worldwide. The two biggest tech giants Apple and Google have now jumped in to do their bit to contain and eradicate the COVID-19 outbreak.
Both Google and Apple will finally be delivering the very first test tools for their much-awaited coronavirus tracking technology to certain public health authorities. It has also been revealed that both these companies are planning to roll them out in a full-fledged manner in mid-May post improving the technology.
As of right now, during this initial testing phase of Coronavirys testing software, only a limited group has been reported to be able to gain access to the first seeds of the exposure notification application programming interface.
Earlier this month, both Apple and Google said that they were working together in unison on a major effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. It would be able to use signals from a particular person’s smartphone to warn them if they’ve come in contact with someone over the past 14 days who’s tested positive for the coronavirus disease.
This joint Coronavirus testing app project takes advantage of two of the world’s most popular operating systems which are the iOS for Apple devices and Android for Google’s devices to be able to potentially reach billions of people all at once.
Coronavirus Tracking App: The Challenges
Apple and Google eventually look forward to building the contact-tracing capability into their mobile operating systems directly because once it becomes a part of the OS itself, tracking will be made even easier. However, this will require people to first update their smartphone’s software which is a problem because many OEMs (mainly for Android) rolls out updates after only a year or two.
Experts believe that the Coronavirus tracking app will only be as effective as the number of people who can access it. Basically what they are trying to say is if this tracking technology doesn’t come inbuilt then individual companies who will manufacture these apps in the near future will have to convince all the smartphone users to opt into the tracing technology – not an easy feat to achieve.
Also, at the same time, privacy watchers and civil liberties advocates have warned that relying on this tracking technology will definitely create a disparity on who is counted when governments make public health-related political decisions.
The app-based efforts to track suspected patients in other countries are facing similar challenges. Aarogya Setu App, a similar app developed in India, is also facing huge criticism and privacy concerns.
Apple and Google, in response to these privacy and civil liberty concerns, have sought to alleviate fears by making sure that this feature will be an ‘opt-in’, meaning it won’t be turned on by default.
Both these tech behemoths have also reportedly published information on the Bluetooth and cryptography specifications for public health apps. The documentation has been noted to incorporate feedback from a lot many public health organizations, academics, nonprofits and developers.
Starting today, select developers will also be able to access the first beta release of Xcode 11.5. That is a prerelease seed of Apple’s developer tools which contains a new version of the company’s iOS software development kit that includes the exposure notification API. Apple also is releasing the third beta of iOS 13.5, the first version of iOS that will have the code needed to run apps with the coronavirus tracking technology.
Now it remains to be seen how successful both these companies become in curbing this pandemic through this technological innovation. The success, however, relies on the massive adoption of Coronavirus tracking app by smartphone users. We will definitely keep you posted on all future developments. Stay tuned!