The new technology, outlined in white papers published by Apple and Google on Friday, relies on Bluetooth wireless radio technology to help phones communicate with one another, ultimately warning users about people they’ve come in contact with who are infected with the coronavirus.
Apple and Google plan to initially release these tools in May so apps from public health authorities can use the contact tracing technology. Then in coming months, the companies plan to build them directly into iOS and Android software to help more people tap into them.
“Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments, and public health providers, we hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID‑19 and accelerate the return of everyday life,” the companies said in a joint statement.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Friday touted the project on Twitter, saying the two companies “are committed to working together on these efforts.” Apple CEO Tim Cook added in his own tweet that the new initiative “respects transparency and consent.”
Apple and Google’s efforts are just the latest by tech giants to help mitigate the impact of the novel coronavirus. The pandemic has forced nearly all Americans to shelter in place to help slow the virus’ spread and reduce the strain on hospitals.