Latvia Might be First to Launch Contact Tracing App Based on Apple-Google API [Update: Switzerland Claims to Be First]

Apple Google Collaboration

Apple and Google have jointly launched the Exposure Notification API for public health authorities. Now Latvia is likely to become the first country to base its contact tracing app on Exposure Notifications API. It is only a matter of time before other countries release their own contact tracing app based on Apple-Google Exposure API.

“The developers believe that reliance on this standard will ensure widespread adoption and also compatibility over time with contact tracing apps around the world that are also expected to adopt the same exposure notification framework,” the app’s developer told Reuters.

Contact Tracing apps have proven to be effective in containing COVID-19 spread. Countries like Singapore and Australia are already using their own version of the contact tracing app. Many countries faced issues due to iOS Bluetooth restrictions. They can now build their contact tracing app based on the Apple-Google Exposure API.

Latvia has named the app Apturi COVID which aptly translates to Stop COVID. At the moment the app is limited to Latvia. Interestingly, Lativia is planning to add a feature that lets the app converse with apps from other European countries. This was the contact tracing effort that will be aggregated and likely to be more effective once the free flow across borders resumes.

Our Take

Contact tracing is going to be very important in the future for the spread of the coronavirus to be contained. Countries like France have opposed the contact tracing app. However, a number of other government bodies are expected to take advantage of the exposure notification API from Apple. In other words, Contact tracing apps will play a major role in containing COVID-19 spread until a vaccine is found.

Update: It seems like Switzerland has beaten Latvia when it comes to the first contact tracing app based on Apple-Google API. The app is called SwissCovid and the pilot program is currently open for the Swiss Army, select hospitals and administrations. The SwissCovid app is expected to be available to the general public by mid next month.

[via Reuters]