With the launch of the iOS 13.7 system update and Android 6.0, Apple and Google have also launched new exposure notification technology which will help COVID-19 contact tracing efforts.
Exposure notifications express is designed to improve the issues the first version of the software faced. In August it was reported that while public health advocates hoped cell phone location data would help stem the spread of the virus, voluntary use fell behind. Virginia released the first statewide app in the U.S. based on the Google-Apple technology and Alabama launched a limited pilot version.
But the software got off to a rocky start. The app did not function properly, there were privacy concerns, and the app was draining battery life from devices.
Exposure notifications express will allow individuals to be privy to Apple and Google coronavirus notifications without needing to download an app from their local health department. The hope is to help spread adoption without putting pressure on health officials, some of whom have told the tech companies they don't have the resources to build an app. Exposure notifications express has the ability to warn people when they come in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with the virus.
Alabama, South Carolina, and North Dakota are among the first U.S. states to express interest in Apple and Google’s Exposure Notifications API for assisting COVID-19 contact tracing.
"We are making it easier and faster for them to use the Exposure Notifications System without the need for them to build and maintain an app," the two companies said in a joint statement. Apple and Google will continue to support public health authorities that have built their own apps but are building this new system to help authorities that aren't able to build their own platform. "Exposure Notifications Express provides another option for public health authorities to supplement their existing contact tracing operations with technology without compromising on the project's core tenets of user privacy and security."
This comes as Google Maps also launches a new layer to give information on reported cases in a region. The new feature is an addition to other coronavirus-related updates to Maps, including information about crowds, COVID-19 transit alerts, and travel restrictions. These updates will help to assist individuals and state governments to better track the spread of COVID-19 and protect themselves and their families.