Google and Apple unveiled a joint initiative Friday to develop a coronavirus smartphone “contact tracing” tool that could potentially alert people when they have crossed paths with an infected person.
The move brings together the largest mobile operating systems in an effort to use smartphone location technology to track and potentially contain the global COVID-19 outbreak.
The move would allow apps to be created enabling smartphones powered by Apple software and Google-backed Android operating system to exchange information with a joint “opt in system” using Bluetooth wireless technology.
The companies next month plan to release software interface technology to allow for interoperability — so that an alert would work regardless of the operating system.
“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,” the companies said in a joint statement.
The move comes with governments around the world studying or implementing measures to use smartphone location technology to identify people with the virus and keep them from infecting others, even as the efforts raise privacy and civil liberties concerns.
US President Donald Trump said during a briefing that the government would take “a very strong look” at the contact-tracing collaboration.