Last Friday, Patently Apple released a report titled “The Canadian province of Alberta today launched the country’s first contact tracing app, with version 2 using the Apple-Google system.” The only point that came out of this report was that selling contact tracing apps to governments is a very lucrative business. Deloitte sold its contact tracing app for $625,000 and that’s for just one in 10 provinces in Canada. Deloitte said they will move or add Apple-Google technology in the coming months in version 2.0. Adopting or switching to the new Apple|Google standard is now becoming a trend.
We now learn in a new report from Reuters today that “the Colombian government has removed the contact tracing feature from its official app to update residents on COVID-19 after encountering issues, but aims to rebuild using potentially more reliable technology from Apple Inc and Google from Alphabet Inc,” according to a Colombian government official.
Reuters further noted that “previously unreported actions by the Colombian government come on top of a growing number of accounts from countries adopting Apple-Google technology and abandoning alternatives aimed at helping them reduce outbreaks faster.
Contact tracing involves identifying, testing and isolating people exposed to the virus before they pass it on to others, which governments around the world have said is essential to keeping their economies safely open until that a vaccine exists. Experts say apps that leverage smartphone Bluetooth sensors to detect encounters with those who test positive could speed up the process.
But some governments that planned to go ahead with such apps without help from US tech giants have been forced to backtrack. The head of Australia’s contact-tracing app told senators on Tuesday that his team is switching to Apple-Google technology via a glitched internal solution, and the government agency behind Britain’s next app revealed in a contract signed Tuesday that it asked engineers to test the Apple-Google system amid privacy concerns over its previously planned alternative.
Apple and Google said their Bluetooth-based technology would work more smoothly than alternatives and benefit consumer trust wary of government surveillance, with the companies banning government collection of users’ GPS locations. applications and other personal data. Several governments, including France, the UK and some US states, argue that Apple and Google’s rules to protect privacy prevent robust data analysis needed to slow the spread of the virus.
But Colombia’s struggle to use alternative technologies highlights the challenges awaiting governments reluctant to agree to Apple and Google’s terms.”
Roadblocks on iPhones
The Colombian government had felt on the right track with its CoronApp, which had been downloaded by 4.3 million people as of May 2 and also includes features to report symptoms and see where cases are on a map.
But CoronApp dropped its contact tracing feature last month just days after it launched.
Colombian presidential adviser Victor Munoz told Reuters that “there have certainly been several lessons learned in this process.”
Apple and Google, the major makers of smartphone operating systems, allow government contact tracing apps to circumvent their technology. BBut without it, iPhones don’t send a readable Bluetooth signal when locked, a feature designed to prevent tracking and save battery power.
Contact tracing apps are useless unless at least about half the population downloads them, and iPhone usage is too big in most countries to ignore. For more details on this story, read the full Reuters report.
France, which supports a competing standard, learns that it is inferior to the Apple|Google standard. They are embarrassed that their app is inferior and take it out on Apple for not helping them.
The European Antitrust Commission has had fun criticizing US tech companies in recent years and handing them outrageous fines. And now they are mad at Apple for not doing their job for them. Leave me alone!