While we were all eating Easter eggs on Friday last week (if you didn’t have any, — thoughts and prayers go out to you), Google and Apple announced a partnership we never thought we’d see in our lifetime. The two tech moguls decided the ongoing pandemic is reason enough to pool all their resources.
It’s kind of like if Superman and Iron Man put their differences aside (like being from different publishers) to fight a universal evil. In this case, the evil is COVID-19, if you didn’t pick up on that.
Why team up though? The tech companies want to provide contact tracing solutions for both Android and iOS operating systems to help track infected cases of COVID-19. Honestly, if we look at both Google and Apple device-use across the globe, it covers an impressive amount. Do you know anyone who’s not on an Android or iOS phone? Yeah. Thought so.
Oh, now they can track us
So, basically, Google and Apple want to use our smartphones to help halt the spread of COVID-19 by informing users if they’ve come in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. This is called ‘contact tracing’ and without one, the other company won’t be able to do it.
To detail it slightly more, contact tracing is the identification and follow-up of humans who may have come into contact with an infected person. So Google or Apple will let anyone know when they’ve come into contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. How… nice of ‘em?
The obvious worry here is the amount of access these companies will then have to our personal information. Pre-COVID, no-one would’ve approved this initiative. It’s intrusive and just shows how much Google and Apple already know about us. But right now, it’s more need than nice-to-have. It could literally save someone’s life if they’re not aware that they came into contact with a confirmed case.
These two operating systems are also very different. This isn’t going to be as easy as ‘writing an app’. For them to roll out a working contact tracing system, they’ll need to ensure user privacy, interoperability between both ecosystems, and device-specific issues. So they’ll have to build the process on a system level, and hope it works.
I mean, sending a push notification to the wrong person’/people could cause mass chaos and confusion. We don’t want that, now do we?
Sauce: The Verge