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Apple and Google: here's what the tracking app for coronavirus might look like

Apple and Google: here's what the tracking app for coronavirus might look like

The articulated discourse on tracking app to counter the spread of Sars-Cov-2 it should be divided into two macro areas: what private companies and international institutions are doing and the initiatives taken by Italy. While, with a phase 2 formally started, our country has not yet finalized the Immuni app project anticipated in mid-April, Apple and Google actually show how the system could look and work contact tracing integrated into apps for Android and iOS. This is the result of the collaboration between the two companies that led to the definition of a new framework introduced to improve privacy in data transmission via Bluetooth, an indispensable tool for tracing the contacts of a positive person to the virus – we talked about it HERE.

It is correct to make a premise: the images below must be considered simply as examples of how an app for contact tracing could look, they are concepts and do not show any existing app. The actual realization is up to the developers who have available the new API made available by Apple and Google.


It starts with the screens that show what the user will see the first time the contact tracing app is started. You will first be asked to turn on notifications and the Bluetooth interface – without the system it cannot work. As previously stated, Apple and Google use the term Exposure notifications – certainly more reassuring expression than Contact Tracing.

Then there is the clear reference toanonymous data acquisition, through Randomly generated IDs. Finally, mention is made of the fact that the app collects data on the date, on the duration and onBT signal strength for events of exposure to a positive subject.


The second series of screens shows the sections of the interface dedicated to coronavirus test positivity report (Sars-Cov-2). As you can clearly see it is an end user task: it will be the person who has discovered that he is positive and must indicate it in the application on completely voluntary basis.

The app also asks for consent to share information with the system and only with users who use the app and with whom they have come into contact – but always in anonymous form, or through ID that does not allow to reveal the identity of the subject (those generated randomly in the 14 days preceding the exhibition event are used).

It is a choice that protects the user's privacy and at the same time makes him fully responsible: if it is not individuals who inform others about their health, the system fails. In the app concept the possibility of indicating your positivity is subject to the insertion of a code that is provided by the health authority after ascertaining the positivity to the test. This would prevent arbitrary and erroneous entry of health data.


The third pair of images focuses on notification that appears to alert the user that he may have been in contact with someone positive to the virus. It appears as any system notification, it indicates the date on which the positive was entered and contains the indications that will be provided by the national health authorities (the space in the concept images remains empty) to act accordingly.


The last screens show the sections to act on app settings


Apple and Google have provided the tools to create the tracking apps with a system that is also safe from the point of view of privacy protection thanks to the measures introduced to effectively encrypt the data transmitted via Bluetooth. The final word continues to belong to individual states. In the past few hours, France and the UK, for example, have decided to start tracking app tests without using the Apple and Google framework. For Italy the situation is still suspended: we hope to introduce the Immuni app later this month, but it is a rough indication and, unfortunately, a tool that becomes less and less effective with the increase in the number of free users to circulate in various capacities on the territory. The ideal would have been to have an app ready in time for the start of phase 2 but obviously some reasons – technical? (e.g. need to integrate the Apple and Google framework released only at the end of April), policies? – did not allow to achieve this goal.