All iPhones and Android Phones Will Be Able Interoperate for COVID-19 Contact Tracing

Apple and Google will be launching a comprehensive solution that includes application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing. Given the urgent need, the plan is to implement this solution in two steps while maintaining strong protections around user privacy.

1. In May, both companies will release APIs that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities. These official apps will be available for users to download via their respective app stores.

2. In the coming months, Apple and Google will work to enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms. This is a more robust solution than an API and would allow more individuals to participate, if they choose to opt in, as well as enable interaction with a broader ecosystem of apps and government health authorities. Privacy, transparency, and consent are of utmost importance in this effort, and they look forward to building this functionality in consultation with interested stakeholders. They will openly publish information about our work for others to analyze.

Apple and Google believe there has never been a more important moment to work together to solve one of the world’s most pressing problems. Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments and public health providers, they 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.

Contact Tracing Technical Specifications

Contact Tracing – Bluetooth Specification

Contact Tracing – Cryptography Specification

Contact Tracing – Framework API

Contact Detection Service
Contact Detection is a BLE service registered with the Bluetooth SIG with 16-bit UUID 0xFD6F, it is designed to enable proximity sensing of Rolling Proximity Identifier between devices for the purpose of computing an exposure event.

Devices advertise and scan for the Contact Detection Service by way of its 16-bit service UUID.

The Service Data type with this service UUID shall contain a 128-bit Rolling Proximity Identifier that changes periodically.

Affected User
When a user is positively affected, their Daily Tracing Keys should be shared with other
uses to alert them to potential exposure. These Daily Tracing Keys are retrieved using
CTSelfTracingInfoRequest.

Exposed User

Given a set of positively affected Daily Tracing Keys, the framework allows you to determine whether those Daily Tracing Keys were observed locally by the user, indicating potential exposure. If so, additional information such as date and duration may also be retrieved. Possible observations can be retrieved using CTExposureDetectionFinishHandler, and additional information using CTExposureDetectionContactHandler.

11 thoughts on “All iPhones and Android Phones Will Be Able Interoperate for COVID-19 Contact Tracing”

  1. It’s the automatic opt-out that should drive privacy. People care but aren’t fully aware. Technology Ignorance is an excuse in this case mostly because even if you opt out, you are still “in” by virtue of connectivity to others who are “in” and how devices are made to work (“you may opt out but your phone might not work”). And this view on privacy is even more important as it relates to personal health data.

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  2. I suspect the privacy will mostly only be so you and I can’t know the identity of someone who gets sick – there will be no privacy from governments or Google or Apple, any more than there is now.

    Even if the API tries to hide identities, matching it up to other phone location data will be trivial for those who have access to that. MAYBE if the API refused to work in apps that also use communication and location services, it’d be a bit harder.

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  3. It helps to have a high deployment app with this functionality built-in for this to work though, like WeChat in China.

    There were anecdotal reports that Singapore’s BlueTrace/TraceTogether app hasn’t had good deployment (allegedly as bad as 11%)

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  4. 99% of people who download this and turn it on will forget to turn it off once the all-clear.

    So people who care about privacy get privacy, and people who don’t care do not.
    Everyone is happy?

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  5. Yeah I suppose. After a decade of people being stripped naked by the tech companies and their souls sold to the highest bidder, people will go for it. I wish they would learn their lesson. Quixotic.

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  6. I’m pretty sure it is the virus. Also given the poor job done by local health agencies and the CDC at doing contact tracing I have to say that an app will be better.

    Private industry: easily doing what is impossible for the government.

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  7. I wonder about privacy…
    Is corona, an excuse or a tool to finally be able do this ?.
    Oh well lets forget its a marketing company and such data has no value whatsoever

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