UPDATE: Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has confirmed in a tweet that Malaysia is one of the 22 countries to have requested for the Exposure Notification API.

Google and Apple started collaborating and announced their plan on releasing a COVID-19 contact tracing technology over a month ago. Now, both companies have released public software updates to introduce their latest project, the Exposure Notification System.

The Exposure Notification System is available on both Android and iOS and can be used by public health agencies (PHAs) around the world to create their apps based on this Exposure Notification API. The framework has been improved and adjusted during its testing period after the tech giants get feedback from various authorities from five continents – PHAs, NGOs, academics, government officials, and privacy experts. For iOS users, iOS 13.5 is already released and comes with the Exposure Notification settings. For Android users, this will be available to those with Android 6.0 Marshmallow and above.

Interoperability, Battery Life, and Privacy

Apple and Google launched Exposure Notification technology for contact tracing apps 1Interoperability, battery life, and privacy are three huge factors that are included when designing the Exposure Notification API. Google and Apple made sure that even when individuals are traveling across countries, the system still works despite the different apps offered in different countries. Nobody likes a battery-draining app, so the new technology is also optimized to prevent high consumption of battery life.

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Android and iOS users also get to decide whether they’d want to opt-in or out of the system and this can be toggled on/off at any time. The Temporary Exposure Keys that are refreshed daily are also randomly generated instead of deriving from a tracing key, making it difficult for ill-intent individuals to track others. In addition to that, all Bluetooth metadata will be encrypted to prevent hackers from identifying phones and their owners.

Exposure Notification to support, not replace

Apple and Google launched Exposure Notification technology for contact tracing apps 2“What we’ve built is not an app — rather public health agencies will incorporate the API into their own apps that people install,” Apple and Google said. The technology is merely a form of support to traditional contact tracing, not as a form of replacement. PHAs will still be able to define an exposure based on their own data and expertise.

Why Exposure Notification is beneficial

Let’s say there’s an individual who is tested positive with COVID-19; the traditional method of tracking down his family members and friends might be easy, but when it comes to strangers he has been in contact with, that will either be too time-consuming or sometimes, impossible – that’s where Exposure Notification comes in. “Exposure Notification has the specific goal of rapid notification, which is especially important to slowing the spread of the disease with a virus that can be spread asymptomatically,” the tech giants said.

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