Technology iOS and Android are updated to help monitor progress...

iOS and Android are updated to help monitor progress of COVID-19

Apple and Google join forces to develop tools against COVID-19.


For news and up-to-date information on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Apple and Google released on Wednesday May 20, two software updates that include system support Exposure Notification API designed by both companies to help monitor contagion by COVID-19.

The new software updates, which correspond to iOS 13.5 and a patch to be released through the Google Play store, will allow compatible phones to work together with applications developed by governments and public health entities to monitor – and alert – of possible contacts between people infected and not infected by the virus.

The monitoring applications have not been created by Apple and Google, but by governments or health organizations. What companies have done is the API to be used by apps to communicate with each other, regardless of the operating system. These applications will be available in the App Store and in the Google Play Store.

Both iOS 13.5 and the Android update are the first public versions of the two mobile operating systems that have API support and is the first result of the alliance between Apple and Google announced in April. To date, several states in the United States and 22 countries worldwide have requested access to the API, the two companies said.

“Contact monitoring at the COVID-19 scale requires technological innovation alongside the workflow of public health organizations,” said John Halamaka, president of the Mayo Clinic, in a statement. “The approach of Apple and Google is a catalyst for a process that has historically been done manually, now digitally.”

Contact monitoring (known in English as contact tracing) has been used by health agencies for many years and is an effective measure for testing, treating, and counseling people who have been in contact with people infected with an out-of-control disease. The alliance between Apple and Google digitalises contact monitoring with Exposure Notifications, a technology that, through applications developed by authorized and specialized organizations, communicates to the phones of infected people with the phones of non-infected people who may have been in contact .

The alliance between Apple and Google will have a double result. On the one hand, there is API support available as of Wednesday, May 20. The second step of this collaboration, being more complex, will come in the coming months. Both companies will work to enable a contact tracking platform that works on the bases of the two platforms. Apple says this solution is more reliable than an API and will allow more people to participate.

The release of the new software versions comes after Apple started testing this support on iOS 13.5 betas released several weeks ago. The iOS 13.5 update includes, in addition to API support, changes to the FaceTime video calling application and allows people with a mask to unlock the iPhone faster with the alphanumeric code.

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