Apple, Google Tell EU Contact Tracing Tech Coming April 28

The COVID-19 infection tracing tool is expected to arrive soon

Contact tracing, an important tool in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, could arrive sooner than expected.

COVID-19
Getty Images

Apple and Google's WHO-approved method for using smartphones to help identify those infected with COVID-19 (and then alert others they've been in close contact with an infected person) could arrive in developers hands weeks ahead of schedule, according to a report from AppleInsider.

What we learned: Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook met separately via teleconference with European Commissioner Thierry Breton. It was Cook who told Breton that the first technology would arrive on April 28. The initial schedule had tools arriving in mid-May.

More reassurances: In a tweet following the Cook meeting, Breton reiterated that the Contact Tracing technology would need to be:

  • Anonymized
  • Voluntary
  • Transparent
  • Temporary
  • Secured
  • Cross-platform
  • Able to cross borders

Limits: Recently we've learned that, despite being a cross-platform plan, Apple and Google's Contact Tracing system might leave behind billions of users who do not have Bluetooth-enabled phones or updated operating systems. Brenton highlighted another stumbling block, seeking assurances from Cook that Apple and Google's system will not block France's StopCOVID system even though it won't use Apple and Google's Contact Tracing technology.

Bottom line: While many questions remain about the effectiveness of Apple and Google's joint pandemic-fighting operation, there is clearly no downside to it arriving early and getting into the hands of developers and, ultimately, consumers, who could use it to learn if they've been near a COVID-19 infected person.

Learn More About Working from Home