Apple and Google pivot from app strategy, will release COVID-19 contact tracing system in next software updates

Apple and Google will build their joint COVID-19 notification system into future versions of their respective iOS and Android operating systems, no longer requiring users to download separate apps to participate in contact tracing efforts, according to CNBC.

Apple and Google in May launched the exposure notification system, which allows smartphone users to download apps built using the system. Those apps, which are managed by public health authorities, then track Bluetooth signals from the users' phones to monitor device proximity without collecting the location or identity of the users.

If an app user tests positive for COVID-19, the system can then send a push notification to other phones that came in close proximity to the person to notify that they may have been exposed to the virus.

Instead of requiring the user to install an app built by a public health authority, Apple and Google's new "Exposure Notifications Express" system allows public health groups to notify people at risk of exposure without having to develop and manage apps. By removing the app download requirement, the tech giants aim to improve adoption of the system.

"As the next step in our work with public health authorities on Exposure Notifications, we are making it easier and faster for them to use the Exposure Notifications System without the need for them to build and maintain an app," Apple and Google representatives said in a statement, according to the report.

The new system will send iPhone and Android users a push notification once it becomes available in their state or region. Users will then be redirected to a series of screens with more information on the system as well as the option to opt-in. The new software will be included in iOS 13.7 for iPhones, which will be released Sept. 1, and Google plans to include it in Android updates coming out later this month.

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