In an unprecedented collaboration, Apple and Google have teamed up on a smartphone technology making it possible for developers to release coronavirus contact-tracing apps.

Apple and Google announced the joint effort to help trace and contain the spread of coronavirus last month, claiming 22 countries and several US states have already signed on to build apps using the software.

Dubbed the Exposure Notification system, the software relies on Bluetooth wireless technology and national databases to detect when someone who downloaded the app has spent time near another app user who later tests positive for the virus. Such contact-tracing apps could help flag exposure and infection before someone has even tested positive for the virus.

Many governments have already tried – mostly unsuccessfully – to roll out similar softwares, often finding them incompatible with Apple or Android devices. This collaboration could fix that.

In light of obvious privacy concerns, Apple and Google insist that the technology has strong privacy protections in place.

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