Apple and Google Launch Exposure Notifications Express That Enables Contact Tracing Without Needing an App

Soon after the pandemic broke, Apple and Google worked together on a contact tracing API. Contact tracing works by using Bluetooth signals from smartphones that are in close proximity. All of this is done without identifying the user or collecting location data. In case a person is tested positive for Covid-19 then the others who came in contact with the person will get a notification. Apple and Google have now introduced a new exposure notification tool that doesn’t require an app.

Apple introduced Exposure Notification API, starting with iOS 13.5. Now Apple and Google have announced a new contact tracing feature that will not require a separate app to work. The new feature is called Exposure Notifications Express, and it works without having to download a separate app. This new feature is available on iOS 13.7 public build.

Apple hopes to improve adoption by building in contact tracing within iOS and not relying on public health authorities to develop a separate app. Meanwhile, the public health groups will still be able to send a notification to people at risk of exposure.

As the next step in our work with public health authorities on Exposure Notifications, we are making it easier and faster for them to use the Exposure Notifications System without the need for them to build and maintain an app.

The Exposure Notification Express is likely to reduce the burden from public health authorities. All they need to do is submit contact information via a configuration file. As and when the Exposure Notification Express is available, the users in that particular region will get a notification. Once users click on the notification, they will be educated on how to use the feature and will be given an option to opt-in.

Our Take

Contact Tracing app was considered as one of the significant measures that helped arrest Covid-19 spread in countries like Singapore. The efficiency of contact tracing apps largely depends on the adaption rate, and this is where the technology faltered.

According to researchers from Oxford University, 60% of the country’s population will have to use a contact tracing app for optimum efficiency. Now a new study also by Oxford University estimates that a country could reduce Covid-19 infections by 15% with an adoption rate of just 15%. We hope the new Exposure Notifications Express will help increase the adoption and stop the spread of Covid-19.