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Apple and Google launch developer version of COVID-19 tracking applications

Apple and Google are accelerating the development of applications that will allow the use of location data from iOS and Android smartphones to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The technological giants have already launched a first version of the tools for programmers.

The launch aims to give programmers the opportunity to prepare application development before the official publication scheduled for mid-May. In addition, Apple included the first version of the API in the recently released beta for iOS 13.5 developers. Some developers have already revealed on Twitter that the iOS application includes a feature that allows the user to receive notifications regarding the COVID-19 exposure.

In the international press, Apple and Google have indicated that they will announce even more details about the tools at the end of the week, including code that exemplifies how they work in practice. Companies are already making documentation available online about the applications.

The launch of the first version of applications for developers comes after Tim Cook, Apple CEO, confirmed to European commissionerThierry Breton that the availability of an initial version of the tool to developers would arrive in April.

The European Commission has already guaranteed that it will only approve this technology during the COVID-19 crisis, for a limited time, and if it complies with privacy rules. Anonymization of information, voluntary adherence, transparency, data maintenance for a limited period, security and interoperability are requirements that Brussels had already stated that it wanted to be guaranteed in the new system.

In Portugal, the launch of a COVID-19 tracking application may be coming soon. The guarantee was given to SAPO TEK by Rui Oliveira, from the Board of Directors of the Institute of Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science (INESC TEC), the entity responsible for coordinating the project.

As Rui Oliveira explained, Google and Apple are helping those who are developing COVID-19 tracking tools, namely in terms of energy consumption and the efficiency of using Bluetooth, for example. As soon as the API is released, the application will take advantage of that, explained the responsible.