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Apple, Google Covid-19 tool will be limited to one app per country

The system, unveiled in April, adds technology to the iOS and Android smartphone operating systems that alerts users anonymously if they have come into contact with a person with Covid-19.
The system, unveiled in April, adds technology to the iOS and Android smartphone operating systems that alerts users anonymously if they have come into contact with a person with Covid-19. (Satish Bate/HT Photo)

One one public health app can use the tool to get as many people to use the software as possible

Apple and Google said their upcoming contract-tracing tool will be restricted to one public health app per country to get as many people in each nation using the software as possible. The companies also released app concepts and sample code to help app developers build programs using the iOS and Android contact-tracing tool. In a statement on Monday, the companies said they would still support countries that have "opted for a regional or state approach."

The system, unveiled in April, adds technology to the iOS and Android smartphone operating systems that alerts users anonymously if they have come into contact with a person with Covid-19. The first phase will launch publicly in mid-May. It requires public health apps to integrate with the system. In the future, the technology will be embedded more deeply into the Apple and Google operating systems to be less reliant on apps.

Also Read: Apple-Google virus combat plan hinges on still-scarce testing

Company representatives also outlined why they decided to build the tool, now known as Exposure Notification. They said governments had been attempting to build their own apps, but came to Apple and Google for help.

The companies also reiterated that apps using the technology must be built by public health authorities, require user consent, collect only the minimum amount of data, and should not record a user's location.

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