When the Australian Federal Government initially launched their COVID19 contact tracing application they touted it to be a fantastic success which would aid Australia’s border reopening and the ability for a business to get back to normal. What the application ended up being as one colossal failure, with the technology being out of date, battery draining and not quite proven to even function correctly. In fact, under 100 cases of COVID19 have been detected as a result of the application.
In typical Apple form though, Tim Cook has subtly and near secretly released a solution to that and many other worldwide applications which have been considered failures and brought about serious risks to privacy.
In the latest iOS software update (iOS 13.7) users no longer need to download a state government application in order to partake in contact tracing. Instead, Governments merely need to opt-in to the service and Apple will store the data and send notifications to people that data believes have come into contact with a confirmed case of COVID19.
Better still, the service only uses data that Apple already stores about users, meaning that Governments don’t need to store loads of data that could potentially be at risk of privacy breaches.
Apple has said that 20 countries have already opt-in on the service and built applications based around the service (along with 6 US states). They’ve also said they aim to perfect the service even further and have it running worldwide, which helps remove border and cross country and continent issues when contact tracing.
The development only strengthens the safety net nations are currently putting in place to help insulate their healthcare from hotspot countries. And with almost 60% of phone users on earth owning an iOS device the piece of software may look to be a winner and a vital piece of healthcare technology in the long-term fight against both COVID19 and other future pandemics.
Alphabet’s (Google) mobile division has similarly invested in a service for Android users that does exactly the same thing which has long been rumoured to be compatible with the iOS version of the service. While this service hasn’t got a launch locked in as of yet it’s long been rumoured to launch in a version of Android later in September.
It is fantastic though that two of the world’s tech superpowers have put a genuine step forward to helping the international community find a COVID-normal not just locally but when partaking in long-distance travel as well. Maybe the return to the beach isn’t so far away after all.