Europe doesn’t plan to make contact-tracing apps mandatory for travel

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Don't expect contact tracing apps to become the next passport.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Contact-tracing apps could play a key role in lifting border restrictions after the coronavirus pandemic — but don’t expect them to become a mandatory part of future travel. At least not in Europe.

In a European Commission document seen by Reuters, officials stress that such tools can be extremely useful “on a voluntary basis.” While the report, published Wednesday, doesn’t offer 100% confirmation, it does suggest that fears that contact-tracing apps could become a requirement of regular travel may be overblown.

Governments divided over Apple and Google’s approach to contact tracing

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Plenty of governments are optimistic about contact tracing. But which approach to take?
Photo: World Health Organization

The battle over decentralized versus centralized contact-tracing apps continues to rage. Some public health officials feel forced to adopt Google and Apple’s Exposure Notifications system — even if they don’t necessarily think it’s the right approach, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.

Others are avoiding the system altogether, despite the fact that its privacy-first approach has been praised by privacy advocates.

Even before its COVID-19 app launches, UK considers switching to Apple’s contact-tracing approach

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Second thoughts on Apple/Google contact tracing by NHS?
Photo: World Health Organization

Great Britain’s National Health Service reportedly asked the developers of its COVID-19 app to investigate switching to Apple and Google’s contact-tracing approach even as its U.K. launch approaches. The move came after widespread concerns over privacy issues and battery life, according to a published report Wednesday.

iOS 13.5 beta simplifies sharing medical ID info with emergency dispatchers

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iOS 13.5 beta 4 makes sharing medical ID a snap.
With iOS 13.5, your iPhone can share medical ID info with emergency dispatchers.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

iPhone and Apple Watch will soon make it easy to share medical ID information during emergency calls. Basic details like allergies and medications can be sent to a dispatcher during the call.

This feature appeared in iOS 13.5 developer beta 4, which debuted on Wednesday.

France threatens Apple in standoff over COVID-19 contract-tracing privacy

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Any of the new iPhones can handle the worst rainstorm.
France plans to go it alone on COVID-19 contact tracing for mobile phones.
Photo: Apple

A French official accused Apple on Tuesday of hampering the effectiveness of the country’s COVID-19 contract-tracing platform by blocking access to data via Bluetooth.

France minister for digital technology Cedric O told BFM Business TV that Apple “could have helped us make the application work even better on the iPhone. They have not wished to do so.”

Apple and Google’s contract-tracing system to ban Location Services access

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New guidelines are meant to help developers create easy-to-understand contact tracing apps.
Photo: Apple/Google

Apple and Google released additional details about their coronavirus contact-tracing system Monday, informing public health officials that they will not be able to use Location Services to track people. The companies also said they will limit use of the contact-tracing API to one per country.

Both companies also showed off what an app might look like on people’s smartphones — and shared sample pieces of code local governments could use in their own mobile apps.

New iOS beta brings first look at Apple’s COVID-19 contact-tracing API

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iPhones will help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus that’s the cause of Covid-19.
Photo: Cult of Mac/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The third beta of iOS 13.5 released on Wednesday gives developers their first look at the coronavirus contact-tracing tool that Apple is creating in cooperation with Google.

iPadOS 13.5 Developer Beta 3 was also debuted today, along with the initial beta of Xcode 11.5.

How Apple and Google became unlikely allies in fight against COVID-19

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Apple and Google's contract-tracing app could prove crucial to fighting COVID-19.
Insiders detail how Apple and Google created a COVID-19 contact-tracing system in just weeks.
Photo: Timon Studler/Unsplash CC

A handful of Apple and Google employees turned a novel approach to fighting COVID-19 from a spark of an idea to a pandemic-fighting tool in less than a month. The tech giants combined forces in March, intent on creating a contact-tracing app capable of monitoring the movements of people who might have come in contact with someone infected with the coronavirus.

CNBC reported inside details Tuesday on how Apple’s initial contact-tracing project — code-named “Bubble” — went from two employees to dozens, and enlisted the help of others at Google.

Spy firms push iPhone-hacking tools to trace coronavirus, raising privacy concerns

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Systems like that from Cellebrite are now being pushed to track COVID-19, but have serious privacy concerns.

Multiple companies that created software to hack into mobile phones now offer versions of their products to trace the spread of COVID-19, according to a published report Tuesday.

Very different from contact-tracing technologies that focus on finding the virus but at the same time protect privacy, these new systems would not need a patient’s consent to gain entry into the device.

UK rejects Apple/Google COVID-19 contact-tracing system

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The UK's National Health Service won’t use Apple/Google tech to warn users if they've recently been in contact with someone infected with coronavirus.
Photo: NHS

The U.K. reportedly decided to go with a coronavirus contact-tracing application different from the system Apple and Google are creating jointly. The National Health Service built an app that creates a central database of people who have tested positive for COVID-19. The Apple and Google solution uses a decentralized system for privacy reasons.