Google, Apple contact tracing API hits the market, 3 states commit to using it in apps

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Apple and Google on May 20 launched their interoperable API, designed to measure contact tracing using Bluetooth technology in smart phones, to help public health agencies rapidly track COVID-19 spread and notify individuals exposed to the virus. 

Smartphone users in some areas will soon be able to download an app to trace who they are in contact with and notify them if they come into contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. Google and Apple worked together to make the API so the technology would register on both iPhone and Android phones. Public health agencies can use the API in their own apps for users to install.

Alabama, North Dakota and South Carolina have all committed to using the API in statewide apps designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, according to CNBC. The apps will depend on users downloading them and then self-reporting when they test positive for COVID-19. There are 22 countries and a few more states that have received information about the APIs on request.

Apps built with the API won't be able to use GPS data that pinpoints user location and government agencies will not be able to turn the technology on without the users' knowledge.

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