Apple launched Bluetooth-based COVID-19 contact tracing feature on iOS and Android devices. Apple has released this feature by using beta 13.5 version and you can get this updated feature only through the developer beta. While the pandemic Coronavirus is spreading all over, “stay-at-home” order has been previously declared by Central Govt; this phone tracking feature can only replace some traditional methods of socialising.
A Bluetooth signal is used by Apple for this COVID-19 contact tracing feature. By this feature, your phone can exchange an anonymous key with the other people within a few feet distance from you and having close contact with you for a certain time. If any person among them is diagnosed with COVID-19 positive, an immediate notification will be sent to you and the other users through your phone. So, you along with the other people can self-quarantine them, if felt necessary without disclosing any of your data.
How to turn on/off COVID-19 Feature:
- On 13.5 iOS of your iPhone and go to the settings option
- Click on privacy under settings
- Now head to the health option
- Click on COVID-19 Exposure Notifications at the top of the screen
- Tap the toggle to turn off the notification or vice-versa
The first app-based phase: Apple will release this phase in mid May using an Application Programming Interface (API) which can trace iOS and Android users easily. To implement this feature, a phone with app A can easily connect with app B through API. So, you need to add the app in your phone from the health department after Apple launches the first phase.
The second phase: Apple wants to contact tracing as a core feature in iOS and Android devices. Though the idea of it is unclear till now, but their objective will be to make it user-friendly for you to easily access in your phone settings without any third-party health authority app. Your phone will notify you if you are exposed and you can collect more information from the downloaded app.
But some queries are inter-linked to this. First, will the app be enough informative or simply deliver a notification? Second, the fragmentation of Android might affect the release of it.
Unfortunately, these apps will not work if your phone does not support Bluetooth LE signals. Although iOS supported iPhone 4S since 2011 and Android start supporting since 2012.
If you are infected: In case, you tested positive for COVID-19, you need to upload an anonymous key of your last 14 days record to the server. As a result, other users will receive an exposure notification if found the matching keys in their history also.
Currently, COVID-19 test is done by the health professionals, so Apple need to pick-up the original infected people. Otherwise, they will face a false claim from the health authority.
If you are exposed: Your phone will check all the data given by you once in a day and will notify you if there are any key matches. If you get in touch with an infected person, your risk factor increases. This app can give theoretical information to its users.
Going through this article, we can say that these contact tracing features does not substitute traditional interviews. We are eagerly waiting for detailed information of Apple’s COVID-19 contact tracing feature.