Google, Apple adjust coronavirus tracking app to get ahead of privacy concerns


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Companies and governments around the world are racing to battle against the coronavirus pandemic, Apple and Google are making changes to its contact tracing program they’ve developed to help inform people when they may have been exposed to the virus.

The contact tracing technology, which the two companies have been working on the project for a little over a month, was initially designed to help people alert one another if someone they were in contact with over a 14 day period was diagnosed with the coronavirus. When the project was first announced, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google head Sundar Pichai promised the technology would be built with privacy in mind.

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The technology basically works by helping Apple iPhones or devices powered by Google’s Android software communicate with one another. They do this by sending signals to one another over bluetooth radio, which are stored on the phones. If someone is then confirmed as having coronavirus, their phones send out a new signal alerting all the phones they’d come in contact with over the past 14 days. 

Apple’s and Google’s efforts are just the latest ways big tech companies have been working on to help fight the coronavirus, which has killed nearly 200,000 people around the world, and infected more than 2.7 million people.

Verily, the life sciences arm of Google parent company Alphabet, last month launched a website that gives people in California information about virus testing. The website, developed in partnership with the White House, lets people fill in symptoms and complete an online screener. 

Google also last month said it’s committing more than $800 million to help small businesses and crisis responders dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Apple and Google have both also begun making and distributing protective equipment for health care workers.

Now, with this new coronavirus tracing technology, two of Silicon Valley’s biggest rivals are hoping to help create apps that’ll help us regain a sense of normalcy as we wait for a vaccine or other ways to fight the virus.

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