Latvia to launch Google-Apple friendly coronavirus contact tracing app

Apple and Google Alliance COVID-19

The small Baltic nation of Latvia aims to become one of the first countries to launch a smartphone app using a new toolkit created by US technology giants Apple and Google to help trace coronavirus infections. 

KEY POINTS

  • Latvia set to become one of the first countries to launch a smartphone app based on Google and Apple’s contact tracing technology
  • Apple and Google control 99% of the worlds smartphone operating systems
  • App will only work in the country, but offers potential interoperability with apps developed in other countries

Early success of tracing apps in countries like Singapore and Australia has been patchy because Apple’s iPhone does not support their approach to using Bluetooth short-range radio as a proxy for measuring the risk of infection.

Latvia’s Apturi Covid (Stop Covid) app is, by contrast, based on technology launched last week by Apple and Google, whose iOS and Android operating systems run 99% of the world’s smartphones.

“The developers believe that reliance on this standard will ensure widespread adoption and also compatibility over time with contact tracing apps around the world that are also expected to adopt the same exposure notification framework,” the app’s developers said in a statement.

The app would only work within the Baltic nation of nearly 2 million people at first.

But its approach aligns Latvia with a loose coalition of European countries including Germany, Switzerland and Estonia, that are working to make it possible for their national apps to ‘talk’ to each other across borders.

Like mobile roaming, such interoperability would enable an app to work when a user travels abroad, giving governments greater confidence to ease travel restrictions without triggering a second wave of the pandemic.

Via our content partners at Reuters. Reporting by Gederts Gelzis and Douglas Busvine. Editing by Kirsten Donovan.

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