Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced the partnership today. The aim of the partnership is to build a new contact tracing tech that will make use of Bluetooth to help reduce the spread of the virus, with privacy and security in mind.
The companies will be working on a “comprehensive” solution that will include APIs and OS-level integration that will enable contact tracing via Bluetooth. The solution will be rolled out in two different phases.
In May, Apple and Google will release APIs to enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices. The APIs, which can be used by public health authority apps, will allow devices to broadcast anonymous identifiers to devices that a person meets. This way, if a user tests positive for COVID-19 on an app from a public health authority, the people that they meet will be notified via these new APIs used by the apps.
Later in the year, Apple and Google will enable much deeper, OS-level integration. The companies plan on building a Bluetooth Low Energy-based contract tracing platform to their own operating systems. “This is a more robust solution than an API and would allow more individuals to participate, if they choose to opt in, as well as enable interaction with a broader ecosystem of apps and government health authorities,” the companies said in a joint press statement.
The following two images explain how the technology would work:
Apple and Google are pledging to openly publish information about this new technology. The companies have released information on how the APIs would work, as well as the specification for the actual contact tracing technology. All of that can be found here.