Apple and Google Introduce a Simplified Coronavirus Exposure Alert System That Doesn’t Require an App
Denrie Caila Perez posted on September 16, 2020 |
The technology uses Bluetooth to track movement and notifies contacts when someone tests positive.
Photo courtesy of Apple and Google.
Photo courtesy of Apple and Google.

Apple and Google have teamed up to create a new coronavirus alert system that doesn’t require users to download an app. The system relies only on Bluetooth technology to determine if people have been exposed to others for long periods of time and notifies close contacts when someone tests positive for the virus. The system first ran in six states in the U.S. along with 15 other countries early in May. It is currently being revamped and upgraded to expand its use for health agencies without needing to develop a customized app. According to Apple and Google, Maryland, Nevada, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. will be the first to trial the new upgraded system.

To operate the system, users just need to enable the “Exposure Notifications Express” on their phones. A prompt will pop up on devices with the latest version of the Apple or Android operating system. While Apple users simply have to tap to enable the system, Android users will still need to download an app. The app, however, will be automatically available for public health authorities according to Google. An agency can easily contact Apple and Google to set up servers that host Bluetooth keys and exposure verification.

Both companies are hoping that this development can contribute to the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. While fanfare for contact tracing apps have significantly dwindled, there is still a demand for easier and more efficient methods for agencies to successfully trace the disease’s spread. Likewise, this simplified interface should also boost adoption by the population at large. However, manual contact tracing, social distancing, and mass testing are still paramount in helping to contain the virus.

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