The key is that on Apple devices, state public health authorities that have opted into the program — providing their criteria for what counts as an exposure to COVID-19 and guidance for what residents should do if exposed — will have their customizations built into iOS.
The two dominant makers of smartphone operating systems can’t snap their fingers and create faster testing, responsible self-quarantining and widespread mask wearing, but the hope is that comprehensive exposure tracking can get people to assist in one fundamental of public health with as little friction as possible.
The interoperable system has been available for public health agencies to develop their own apps on — Virginia launched the first one in the U. S. in August and five more states have followed.
In a statement from Apple and Google, Christophe Fraser, from Oxford University’s department of health said: “We estimate that a well-staffed manual contact tracing workforce combined with 15% uptake could reduce infections by 15% and deaths by 11%.
Contact tracing — the practice of identifying anyone an infected person has interacted with — is vital to a pandemic response. But the U. S. has struggled with it through a deadly mixture of overwhelming case loads, slow testing and uncooperative civilians.
Apple and Google have announced the latest form of their coronavirus tracing system which, for iOS users, does not require downloading an app.
Android users will also be alerted when exposure notifications are available in their state, then will be prompted to download a customized app developed by Google.