Google, Apple COVID-19 contact tracing apps to roll out in ‘coming weeks’ in US


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Google said Friday that it’s working with 20 US states and territories on coronavirus contact-tracing apps using the exposure notification tools it’s built with Apple, and that it expects apps using the tools to be available in the coming weeks.

In the announcement, Google said public health authorities have already used the Exposure Notifications System, or ENS, to create apps in 16 countries and regions across Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America.

Using the co-developed tools, public health organizations can create their own contact tracing apps to monitor and check the spread of COVID-19. Google said it expects the initial rollout in the United States to reach approximately 45 percent of the US population.

The tools created by Apple and Google work using Bluetooth signals on iPhone and Android devices to detect when a person comes in close and prolonged contact with others. With the technology, public health officials can notify those who’ve been in contact with someone who’s tested positive for the coronavirus.

The two companies released the first version of the contact-tracing toolkit in May and have been steadily updating the tools based on feedback from public health authorities and developers, they said, including around privacy issues that tracing apps bring up.

“We’re committed to supporting public health authorities as they build tools to fight COVID-19,” said Google Vice President of Engineering Dave Burke. “We’ll continue to improve ENS based on feedback, while ensuring that people can trust in the privacy-preserving design of this technology.”

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