Apple and Google team up to develop phones which reveal if you've been near someone who has coronavirus

APPLE and Google are teaming up to develop phones which will reveal if you have been within two metres of someone who has coronavirus.

The tech giants  – who operate 99 per cent of the world's smartphones – plan to add new software to make it easier to track down people who may have been infected.

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The 'contact tracing' will play a vital role in managing the deadly virus once lockdown orders finally come to an end, according to health experts.

The system will work by emitting unique Bluetooth signals and then phones within around two metres can record information about their encounters.

Those who test positive for coronavirus can then opt to send an encrypted list of the phones they came near to onto Apple and Google.

The system will then trigger alerts to those who have potentially been exposed to the killer infection.

Medics would then need to confirm that a person has tested positive for COVID-19 before they can send on the data.

The rare collaboration should accelerate usage of apps which aim to get potentially infected individuals into testing or quarantine more quickly and reliably.

The logs will be scrambled to keep infected individuals' data anonymous.

However, to be effective the system would require millions to opt into the tech and therefore trust the companies' security safeguards.

Apple and Google said their contact tracing system will not track GPS location.

"With Apple and Google, you get all the public health functions you need with a decentralised and privacy-friendly app," said Michael Veale, a University College London lecturer involved in European contact tracing system DP3T.

The companies said they started developing the tech two weeks ago to streamline technical differences between Apple's iPhones and Google's Android.

"To their credit, Apple and Google have announced an approach that appears to mitigate the worst privacy and centralization risks," said Jennifer Granick, cybersecurity counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Apple and Google plan to release software tools in mid-May to contact tracing apps that they and public health authorities approve.

Google said the tools and updates would not be available where its services are blocked, such as in China or on unofficial Android devices.

Apple will distribute the technology as an update to its iPhone operating system.

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