Apple, Google release 1st version of coronavirus contact-tracing software

The software is expected to be officially released in May

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Apple and Google on Wednesday released the first components of their joint coronavirus contact-tracing software to a select group of global app developers, company representatives told FOX Business.

The Apple and Google software tool known as an Application Programming Interface (API) will support apps created in partnerships with public health authorities that are expected to notify people who may have been in contact with those who have been infected with COVID-19.

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The early release aims to give opportunities to some app developers working with PHAs to test the software and provide feedback to Apple and Google before it is officially released in May. It also highlights the progress the two companies are making in terms of developing the software despite privacy concerns.

Apple iPhone 6s screen with social media applications icons / iStock

The tech giants plan to announce more details about the software component release on Friday, they said.

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Apple is releasing a test version of its latest iOS that will have the capability to run contact-tracing using Apple-Google technology. Google has also released a test version of its latest Google Play Services update with the contact-tracing software to select developers who can start testing apps using the technology.

The two tech giants on April 24 announced stronger privacy protections and features to make app-building easier for public health organizations and app developers after receiving feedback from key global stakeholders, the companies said in a press release at the time.

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"It's worth noting that our principles and privacy assurances remain as strong as ever, and the protections for users have only increased as a result of these updates," Apple and Google said in an April 24 announcement. "We view our role as developing technology that assists with these efforts that public health authorities are undertaking."

The apps using Apple-Google software will notify smartphone users when they have come in contact with COVID-19, which will likely make people more aware of where the virus is in their communities and whether they need to consider being tested.

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