Technology Corona apps: Apple and Google publish interface for health...

Corona apps: Apple and Google publish interface for health authorities

Apple and Google today released the programming interface (API) for Bluetooth-based contact tracing apps announced in April. Health authorities around the world can now use it to develop appropriate applications for Apple’s iOS and Google Android operating systems and submit them for approval in the app stores of the two companies.

Several US states and 22 other countries on five continents have already applied for and received access to the interface, Apple and Google said on Wednesday. More countries are expected to join in the coming weeks.

In Germany, SAP and T-Systems are currently developing a corresponding app for electronic contact determination of people infected with corona. It will be called the Corona Warning app and should be ready in mid-June. The developers recently released the first components.

The Apple and Google interface is a prerequisite for ensuring that such Bluetooth-based apps work smoothly in conjunction with Android smartphones and that they do not strain the smartphone batteries too much. How the two companies basically imagine the functioning of the different contact tracing apps can be read here.

The two companies had recently collected feedback from health authorities and developers and then optimized the interface. Among other things, it now allows the authorities to determine for themselves how contact with other app users is defined, i.e. the distance between them and the period of mutual proximity. The authorities can also calculate the risk of transmitting Sars-CoV-2 during a contact using their own algorithms. In addition, the security measures have been tightened: Among other things, metadata is encrypted during the Bluetooth transmission of data, which should make it difficult for outsiders to assign data to a specific device.

According to Apple and Google’s specifications, the following is not allowed:

  • the use of the Corona apps for any other purpose,

  • access of the apps to location data,

  • Opt-out solutions, i.e. apps that are active immediately after installation,

  • sharing positive test results without the express consent of those affected, as well as

  • the further use of the – already sparse – user data for advertising purposes.

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