Science & Technology

Apple, Google reveal how COVID-19 alert apps could look

San Francisco, US, May 4 (efe-epa).- Apple and Google on Monday revealed for the first time the alert applications that governments around the world will be able to create for their operating systems to enable contact tracing on mobile phones with the aim of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two companies, which last week opened their technology to some software developers, published a series of images showing what could be seen on a mobile phone when a user opens the app and receives a notification that they have come in contact with an infected person or when they test positive for COVID-19.

Apple and Google also shared some of the guidelines that will need to be followed by the developers. The apps will not be able to access location data, they must be created by government-linked organizations, and they must ask the permission of the user to send or receive notifications.

The two firms surprised in early April with an unprecedented alliance in a highly competitive technology industry by announcing that they were collaborating on a project to use population mobility data in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The idea of the tool is to use the ubiquity of the operating systems of Apple’s iPhones with iOS and Google devices with Android to collect and provide to health authorities around the world mobility data and contact between individuals that would allow better monitoring and predictions of coronavirus infections.

The concept has been carried out in Asian countries such as China and South Korea where it has raised serious doubts over the privacy of user information. However, Apple and Google said that they have been able to mitigate the concerns through the use of Bluetooth – a less invasive technology – and the voluntary nature of the app.

The results of the alliance between the companies of two most popular operating systems in the world should materialize in mid-May, when they are set to release an application programming interface (API) compatible with both Android and iOS devices.

APIs are the computing interfaces to a software component or a system that define how other components or systems can use it. They define the kinds of calls or requests that can be made, how to make them, the data formats that should be used, the conventions to follow, and so on.

Historically, those of Android and iOS have been incompatible with each other, which has made it very difficult and even prevented in some cases communication between both systems.

The new API, however, will allow seamless interaction between Android and iOS with the idea that the official applications created by the different health authorities can be downloaded on both platforms and the information they collect can be added regardless of the computer language of each device.

In this manner, if a person comes in contact with someone who has tested positive or is diagnosed with the infection after the interaction, they will be able to receive a warning on their mobile and would go into quarantine to determine whether they have contracted the virus. EFE-EPA


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