Apple, Google Launch Joint Contact Tracing App

Apple and Google say that 23 countries across five continents have inquired about using the app to track those infected with coronavirus.
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Apple  (AAPL) - Get Report and Google's  (GOOGL) - Get Report coronavirus contact tracing system launched Wednesday with iOS 13.5 and in a new update in Google Play. 

The companies said that authorities in 23 countries across five continents have sought access to the program which can help health officials track people who have come into contact with those infected with COVID-19. 

Apple and Google put restrictions on governments' abilities to collect users' location, phone numbers and other details.

Some governments interested in using the technology are developing apps using their own technology, according to Reuters. Apple says that the additional technology could experience glitches and could drain device batteries.

The two companies were continuing talks with the British government who are testing an app that matches contacts on a centralized server as opposed to Apple and Google's decentralized model. 

The two tech giants said the system’s tracking keys will be generated in more random ways. In addition, Bluetooth data will now be encrypted to make it more difficult for specific users to be identified by hackers.

The companies also said that apps using the tool will now limit the recording of the time people are exposed to an infected person to a maximum of 30 minutes.

The tracking system does not use GPS location data and stores the most sensitive data in a decentralized way on users' phones, but it has been criticized for potentially sharing too much private health data. Health and privacy researchers also cited privacy concerns that the companies addressed on Friday by making it harder to use system-generated data to track people.

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