Trudeau says government working with Apple and Google regarding COVID-19 contact tracing app

Apple and Google's API system could be used as a base for a contract tracing app

Justin Trudeau Prime Minister

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government is “working closely with Apple and Google” in regards to a COVID-19 contact tracing app.

Trudeau stated the notification system Apple and Google are working on will be extremely important as a base for an effective contract tracing or exposure notification app.

“One of the challenges that contact tracing apps have encountered is that it has to sit in the foreground of your phone and drains the battery. That’s why the fix that Apple and Google are talking about will be extremely important,” he stated during his daily briefing on May 22nd.

Trudeau notes that the government is working with several different partners for contact tracing apps, which indicates that it is collaborating with other organizations and companies too. This also outlines that if the government releases a contact tracing app, it may not necessarily use Apple and Google’s system.

“We’re working closely with Apple and Google on the update that they will be bringing forward, and it is our expectation that when the time comes for that to be released, we will be able to recommend strongly to Canadians a particular app that will help us manage the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

Apple and Google recently announced that their Exposure Notification System would be released publicly through software updates starting May 20th. The companies said that with the updates, public health agencies around the world can start deploying apps that make use of the system. Apple’s contact tracing API went live with the release of iOS 13.5.

The Exposure Notification System uses Bluetooth technology to share randomized codes with other nearby smartphones, which can’t identify users. When someone tests positive for COVID-19, they upload their codes through the app provided by their government’s health authority.

Other smartphones are then able to access these codes and check for matches against the codes stored on devices. The system then notifies the user if it has confirmed a match and then provides the users with details about what to do next.

Trudeau did not offer a timeline regarding when a potential COVID-19 contact tracing app may be released, but indicated that Canadians would be strongly advised to download it once it is available.