Technology UK ditches its own coronavirus app for Google and Apple version
UK’s NHS won’t use Apple-Google approach to COVID-19 tracking
Apple and Google are expected to release their contact tracing technology to developers tomorrow. But the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) says it won’t use the Apple-Google model, BBC reports. While the two tech companies are working on a “decentralized” approach, in which the contact tracing matches will happen on users’ devices, the NHS is opting for a “centralized” model, in which the matching and alerts happen via a computer server. AppleApple and Google have promoted the decentralized approach as a way to protect users’ privacy from authorities and hackers. According to the BBC, the NHS believes the centralized approach will allow it to more easily audit the system and adapt it as new scientific evidence comes in.
The British government is abandoning its attempt to develop atracing app from scratch and will instead build a new one based on a system created by .
The new smartphone app will incorporate some of lessons the UK government has learned from working on its own app, such as how to better estimate the distance between users. The government did not give a roll out date.
"This is an important step allowing us to develop an app that will bring together the functionality required to carry out contact tracing, but also making it easy to order tests, and access proactive advice and guidance to aid self-isolation," the government said in a statement on Thursday.
Apple Maps now shows COVID-19 testing sites
For all 50 states and Puerto Rico (via TechCrunch). When you search using terms like “COVID-19 test” or “coronavirus test,” places that offer COVID-19 tests will be marked on your map. If you start typing COVID-19 into the search bar, you’ll also see the “COVID-19 Testing” search term appear at the top of your search bar, like what you’d see if you started typing something like “groceries” or “coffee shops.
The about-face comes after the roll out of the UK app, which was being developed by the country's National Health Service and two outside firms, was repeatedly delayed. Government ministers initially lauded the NHS app as key to helping the country out of lockdown, in addition to deploying thousands of people to track and trace the infection.
In early May, the app beganand it was supposed to be released nationally a few weeks later. That deadline was moved back several times, until government ministers stopped giving a timeline.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in a statement on Thursday that the government has always been "willing to back innovative solutions and to be ambitious."
Most coronavirus exposure tracing apps work by using Bluetooth to record when a phone has been in proximity to another phone for an extended period of time. If a person is diagnosed with coronavirus and inputs that information into the app, it alerts those other phones.
Initially, the United Kingdom chose to make its own app partly because the Google and Apple system does not allow governments to store data centrally, which can help public health experts study outbreaks. Instead, it stores data locally on each phone, which the tech companies say is better for privacy.
Germany ditched its own tracing app in late April in favor of the Google and Apple system.
Apple's COVID-19 screening tool can anonymously share symptoms with the CDC .
Apple’s COVID-19 screening tool now helps you contribute to the public good in addition to providing personalized advice. TechCrunchnotes that Apple has updated both its iOS app and website with anonymous symptom and health info sharing with the CDC. Agree and you’ll send your condition as well as non-identifying data like your age bracket, exposure risks and state. The CDC will aggregate the info and use it to improve screening protocols. You may want to run through the tool even if you’ve used it recently, then, if just to give health experts more data.