New iOS and Android Updates Allow for Contact Tracing Opt-In

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Melanie N.
ByMelanie N.
Staff

The advent of fall not only brings crisp air, changing leaves, and pumpkin-flavored everything, but also, a much less exciting time—the start of flu season. Covid-19 has affected every single part of our lives, and it’s more important than ever to stay safe and vigilant as cooler weather draws more of us indoors. 

One of the things that makes covid-19 so worrisome is that it’s an airborne virus and those who have caught it can show symptoms up to 7 days later, making it difficult to pinpoint when and where someone may have contracted the virus. Enter Apple and Google whose technology is already at all of our fingertips. 

Apple’s newest iOS update (iOS 13.7), which came out at the beginning of the month, includes tools that will make it easier for the public health authorities to provide exposure notifications. Google’s update will be available to Android devices by the end of the month. Users will receive information from local health authorities about what it does, and will be able to opt-in or out. For those who opt-in, Apple and Google’s tech will work and co-exist with the apps from public health authorities. 

Local health authorities will still have to elect to participate as well as customize the messaging delivered to users in their regions for notification and onboarding information. Health authorities will also be responsible for determining how exposure risk is calculated. 

For those who are worried about their privacy, this system follows the same privacy protections that Apple and Google provide throughout, which means that location data is not collected or connected to any exposure notifications. The technology uses a randomly generated ID and bluetooth technology to track when a user comes in range of another opted-in user. A log is created and checked against confirmed diagnoses—all fully anonymized. 

Research has shown that any level of contact tracing has a positive effect on reducing the spread of covid-19, and Apple and Google teaming up to supplement these efforts will hopefully make this process easier and more efficient.

Will you be opting-in to exposure notifications if it is available in your region?