Apple and Google release first COVID-19 exposure tracing API for developers

Apple and Google release first COVID-19 exposure tracing API for developers

The Coronavirus pandemic recently brought together rival tech giants Apple and Google. The two companies started developing a new contact tracing mechanism that would connect together data from both iOS and Android devices. Now, the companies have released the first version of their exposure notification API. A release meant only for developers, the API’s primary function is to collect feedback from developers. These developers will be using this API to create new contact tracing applications on behalf of registered public health authorities.

Apple will deliver the first beta release of Xcode 11.5 today. This is a pre-release seed of Apple’s developer tools containing a new version of the iOS SDK that incorporates the exposure notification API. Further, the company is releasing Beta 3 of iOS 13.5, the first pre-release version of iOS to contain the code needed to run apps built using the exposure notification API. Similarly, Google has delivered its beta Google Play Services update with the exposure notification API and the accompanying SDK privately to select developers who can begin testing using Android Developer Studio.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook last week said that the new API would arrive shortly. The API version is now available to a small group of developers. The public release for the API is expected to come out in mid-May 2020. This public release will help developers put the APIs in their respective health apps. Further, people will then be able to download/update these apps from the iOS App Store or the Google Play Store.

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Apple, Google to provide more details on Friday

Both Apple and Google have said that the companies will provide more details on the API this Friday, including sample code to show how it operates in practice. The companies will also be looking forward to updating the documentation of the APIs, hence adding access to more developers in the future. Google and Apple have already released documentation on the Bluetooth and cryptography specifications as well as an API framework that has incorporated feedback from PHAs, academics experienced in this field, NGOs, and developers.