Virus tracing will soon be directly available on Google Play for Android phones

Smartphone owners will soon benefit from apps that enable them to evaluate the degree to which they have been exposed to Covid-19. — LDProd/ IStock.com pic via AFP
Smartphone owners will soon benefit from apps that enable them to evaluate the degree to which they have been exposed to Covid-19. — LDProd/ IStock.com pic via AFP

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SAN FRANCISCO, April 15 — Late last week Apple and Google caused a stir with the announcement that they would work together on Covid-19 contact-tracing technology. For Android users, updates will be directly available from Google Play.

Apple and Google are to join forces to launch application programming interfaces (APIs) to make it possible to trace the transmission of the virus.

The goal is to ensure that all smartphones, regardless of whether they run on Android or iOS, will be able to communicate with each other, via a simple Bluetooth connection with a view to offering their owners up-to-date information on their levels of exposure to infection.

At the same time, both of the technology giants have pledged to pay careful attention to issues of data security and confidentiality.

In May, Apple and Google will both launch APIs for developers that ensure interoperability for contact-tracing apps on Android and iOS, which will be downloadable from Google Play and Apple's App Store.

Later in the year, Apple and Google plan to work on a broader contact-tracing platform for voluntary users, which will carefully respect privacy.

Google has announced that all Android phones (since version 6.0) will receive Covid-19-tracing updates via Google Play and not via an enhanced version of the operating system.

This effectively means that the latest Huawei smartphones, which have been deprived of access to Google Play will not benefit from the new data source.

This will also be the case of the majority of smartphones sold in China, which generally source applications from software repositories developed by local manufacturers. — AFP-Relaxnews

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