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Silicon Valley giants unite over COVID-19

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Google and Apple have joined forces to enable Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of COVID-19.

As the crisis escalated around the world, public health officials identified contact tracing as a valuable tool to help contain its spread.

They, alongside universities and NGOs, have been striving to develop opt-in contact tracing technology.

Now Apple and Google are jointly launching a solution that includes application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system technology to assist in enabling contact tracing.

The tech giants plan to implement this solution in two steps.

This month, both companies will release APIs that enable “interoperability” between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities.

These official apps will be available for users to download via their respective app stores.

Second, in the coming months, Apple and Google will work to enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms.

Apple said in a statement that: “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.

“Privacy, transparency, and consent are of utmost importance in this effort, and we look forward to building this functionality in consultation with interested stakeholders. We will openly publish information about our work for others to analyse.

“All of us at Apple and Google believe there has never been a more important moment to work together to solve one of the world’s most pressing problems.

“Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments and public health providers, we hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday life.”

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