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Apple and Google Launch Contact Tracing “Apps”

a man holding a phone with the covid app trcaker | feature | Apple and Google Launch Contact Tracing “Apps”
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Apple and Google have launched an entirely opt-in contact tracing system that has the potential to save lives and slow the coronavirus pandemic’s spread as states and regions emerge from lockdown.

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Coronavirus Contact Tracing Software Rolled Out Directly onto Your Phone

Smartphone giants Apple and Google have built their COVID-19 contact tracing software right into your phone.

The update makes it easier for government health agencies to monitor and implement contact tracing and, no doubt, saves money that can be put to better use.

a healthcare staff is checking Covid infection for a woman | Apple and Google Launch Contact Tracing “Apps”a healthcare staff is checking Covid infection for a woman | Apple and Google Launch Contact Tracing “Apps” |

Usually, smartphone users around the world would be encouraged to use contract tracing apps to track their proximity to others in an effort to slow down the COVID-19 pandemic. They would then make up their mind, likely based on privacy concerns, whether to seek out and download an app made by a public health authority.

Historically, the manual method for trying to ascertain where patients have traveled and who they might have passed the contagion on to would simply be done through a series of interview questions and detective work. This would be done by government health agencies who’d hire an army of workers.

Apple initially introduced the contact tracing system in iOS 13.5, but the original application needed a third-party app developed by a government health agency or which there were very few.

However, the new system, dubbed Exposure Notification Express (ENE), enables the same public health groups to send warnings to users at risk without having to develop and run an actual app.

The iOS Exposure Notifications feature is powered by an Application Programming Interface (API) jointly developed by Apple and Google. It uses Bluetooth smartphone signals from those who have opted to determine proximity to another and how long the phones, or users, were nearby. It does this without collecting data about the identity or location of the users.

The new software is included in iOS 13.7 for iPhones (and the iOS 14 update this coming fall), and Google will follow later this month with their Android software update. When users update their phones, the feature is disabled by default.

When states opt into the system, most iPhone and Android phones in that state will get an invitational push notification inviting the owner to take part in the system.

Opting in will activate the new ENE feature, and the system uses anonymous digital tokens or randomly generated ID numbers to exchange data with other phones via short-range Bluetooth. Personal identity and location data are neither collected nor sent to states.

If one user self-reports that they test positive for COVID-19, the system notifies other participating phones that have been in the vicinity and may have been exposed to the virus.

Some iPhone owners have turned to social media to express their fears over using the contact tracing system and are refusing to install the iOS 13.7 update because they see it as something sinister. Overlooking the benefits of contact tracing, they see it as a way for the government and Apple to keep tabs on us and nothing but a government spy tool.

a hand holding phone in the middle with red and green human symbols | Security | Apple and Google Launch Contact Tracing “Apps”

Despite the claims that the system is “Big Brother,” Apple and Google have created the system around strict privacy policies. The random ID numbers are designed so that they cannot reveal any personal information like your name, location, age, etc.

The digital tokens or randomly generated ID numbers are generated cryptographically and update every 24 hours.

Knowledge is power. If you know that you have come into contact with someone with the virus, you have the chance to get tested yourself and warn others that you have been around. You can take steps to avoid passing the disease to others. The importance of the contact tracing system has real benefits to you, your family, and friends. It has the potential to save lives.

If you can, take advantage of the contact tracing software updates, you could just save a life.

What are your views on the new contact tracing system? Will you opt-in or out? Let us know in the comments section below.

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