Tech giants join forces on tracking COVID-19

Tech giants join forces on tracking COVID-19

Google and Apple join forces to develop software meant to track the spread of COVID-19. At the end of last week, the two companies made the official announcement.

The tracking tool will be a part of Android and iOS operating systems and will track the virus spread from person to person. The tool is said to report if people have been in contact with virus-infected people, and allow users to report it to a public health agency.

It will be available in a few months, and it can be one of the most significant technological efforts against the spread of the virus. Altogether, billions of people use Android and iPhones, and the same number is to be reached by the people who will use this tool.

Separately, each company released its app and a testing system.

Google allows people from the Bay Area to report symptoms, and then people are directed to a testing site to see if they qualify for a COVID-19 test. More areas are said to be covered soon, but the time frame is unspecified.

Since late March, Apple released an app and a screening tool meant to design face shields to protect the health workers and to search for masks.

But the two giants might be late to the party, as Singapore released last month TraceTogether. It was the country's way of contact-tracing new patients via Bluetooth. The system quickly became part of people's lives as they are more compliant. But until now, only 20% of the population uses the app. Lawrence Wong, the country's development minister, declared that "In order for TraceTogether to be effective, we need something like three-quarters—if not everyone—of the population to have it."

Besides Singapore, China is also using TraceTogether, but here it’s not a matter of compliance, as it came as a mandatory measure imposed by the Beijing government.

For the app to be useful, more than 60% of the population needs to use the app, but some say that the numbers could get as high as 75% or more. Over time, Cambridge University developed such an app in 2011, but it wasn't a success.

Apple and Google believe that, with help and collaboration, the virus can be restrained: "Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments and public health providers, we hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday life.”

Today’s pre-market is not too good for shares. Both companies are on minus: Google lost 1.21% to trade at $1,192.00, while Apple lost 0.59% to $266.40.


Sources: thestreet.com, apple.com, forbes.com, marketwatch.com

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