After several weeks of preliminary versions, the first public version of the exposure notification system developed by Apple and Google is now available through software updates for developers. With them, the public health authorities interested in the system will be able to start developing applications that they implement it. Additionally, the first public version of iOS 13.5 that has this API in the operating system is now available.

The companies said at a press conference today that the release of this API (application program interface) was created as a result of conversations over the past five weeks with public health authorities, NGOs, academics, government officials and privacy experts on five continents.

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After several weeks of conversations and comments with governments and health authorities, Apple and Google today launch the first public version of the exposure notification system

The objective was to obtain agreed system and with mixed opinions who respected user privacy as their primary goal, and focused on resolution challenges that bluetooth technology also presents on which the system is based: interoperability (iOS + Android) and battery life (depending on the brand, this will have no impact). Throughout this process between the different teams, Apple and Google took advantage of this feedback to generate multiple beta versions the software and generated documentation have been made public – including bluetooth and crypto specifications, API specifications, and sample applications with source code.

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The two companies stressed that this system is neither silver bullet against the virus but an additional tool that it should not replace any other, which is placed in the hands of governments and health authorities. Only one application can be developed per country to avoid fragmentation (with exceptions in some regions, which will also benefit from support). 22 countries have already expressed their interest In this system, the list could be made public later: the first applications using the system could start the test phase in a week and a half.

The possibilities of the system

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In meetings held and based on comments from public health authoritiesThe whole system rests on four fundamental pillars that define what can be done with the applications that implement this API:

  • The API will allow public health authorities to define when an exposure occurs.
  • The API will allow public health authorities to determine the number of times a person is exposed.
  • The API will allow public health authorities to take into account the risk of transmission of the initial case in their definition of what is a time of exposure.
  • The combination of the API and the data that users choose to voluntarily enter into the app allows public health authorities to contact affected users.
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Reinforcement in privacy and with the user under the control of the entire system, the basic pillars

Thanks to this feedback continues, efforts have been made to a unique and useful technological solution, with support on the two most established platforms in the world and respect for private life always with consent and allowing the user to have control over inclusion or not, being able to enter or exit the system at any time. For example, even when the operating systems allow us to use the system or we have downloaded the application from the country where we are located, we must consciously activate these exhibition notifications to participate – both in the app, with iOS or Android.

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the privacy booster has been increased in the latest versions of the API has been further improved with the collaboration of experts in the protection of privacy and public health. The big changes from the last update were the random generation of temporary exposure keys (and not derived from a tracking key) and full encryption of all metadata associated with Bluetooth traffic to avoid identification even when using the transmit power of a particular phone model.

This is the application proposal on COVID-19 exposure notification that Apple and Google are proposing to governments

Apple and Google are grateful for the work of public health officials around the world to track contacts, find out the extent of the pandemic, and for the publication of this document. Exposure notification system They will help detect and communicate to affected people using this technology. The two companies also said that will continue to help and develop these tools in successive phases, which today constitutes the first important step to be used in the near future in applications accessible to the public.

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