A message titled – “COVID -19 sensor has been ‘inserted’ into every phone” – is doing great rounds on various social media. This, apparently, has happened on everyone’s phone while phone disruptions have stealthily happened maybe last week.
Intrigued by this message, I immediately checked my Google settings to see if I had such a feature installed (without my knowledge). To my surprise – Yes! I did have a COVID tracker.
If you want to check on this and if you have an Android phone, go under Settings, then click on google, settings and you will find it there. If you have an iPhone, go to settings, privacy, then health.
Now, the COVID-19 exposure notifications framework that has been included in both Android and iOS platform updates is not an app. It’s an application programming interface (API) to enable tracking, or contact tracing, apps to work correctly when they are installed.
The ‘Exposure Notification’ API developed by Apple and Google for apps to help trace COVID-19 cases has started rolling out in India. Apple and Google’s Exposure Notification API have different functionality to trace COVID-19 cases. It uses the smartphone’s Bluetooth functionality. Apple and Google have revealed that they will not share any location data of users unless the user has been reported COVID-19 positive or they have come in contact/ proximity with a coronavirus patient.
This, the developers say, that despite the Exposure Notification API being launched in our phones, it may not work with India’s Aarogya Setu app. Mashable in its post explains that the Google’s COVID-19 exposure notification system won’t be of any use even after you enable it from the Settings app. It would require an app to work and Aarogya Setu is not on the list for now.
Essentially, Google and Apple’s Exposure Notification tech comes in the form of an API that is added to the various apps developed by any country’s health authorities. The API only indicates if a person has come in contact with a Coronavirus-positive person. However, the Aarogya Setu contact tracing app is, as of now, not compatible with the tech developed by Google and Apple. Of course, the tech giants might be in deliberation to bring this feature to India ASAP.