California launching contact tracing app built on Apple/Google tech

Apple and Google Partner On COVID-19 Contact Tracing Technology
Apple and Google Partner On COVID-19 Contact Tracing Technology (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • California is rolling out its own contact tracing app built on Apple and Google's technology.
  • The CA Notify app will be available to download on Thursday, December 10.

Update, December 10 (10:00 pm ET): iPhone users can now enable exposure notifications in California.

Reported by TechCrunch, California has officially launched its own COVID-19 contact tracing app statewide. The CA Notify app, which was on a pilot program last month, will be available for all residents in the state to download on Thursday, December 10, according to Governor Gavin Newsom.

The app uses the Exposure Notification technology developed by Apple and Google, which uses Bluetooth instead of GPS to determine if you have been potentially exposed to someone who has reported themselves as testing positive for COVID-19.

In the case of California, the state has set contact with a confirmed COVID-19 positive individual of within six feet for a period of 15 minutes or more as meriting an exposure notification. Users who receive a positive COVID-19 test will get a text message from the Department of Public Health for the state that contains a code they input in the CA Notify app in order to trigger an alert broadcast to any phones that met the criteria above during the prior 14 days (the period during which the virus is transmissible).

Like the other contact tracing apps using Apple and Google's technology, it does not ask that users provide any personal information.

As mentioned, there's no personal information transmitted from a user's device via the notification system, and it's a fully opt-in arrangement. Other states have already deployed exposure notification apps based on the Apple/Google API, as have many other countries around the world. It's not a replacement for a contact-tracing system, in which healthcare professionals attempt to determine who a COVID-19 patient came in contact with to find out how they might have contracted the virus, and to whom they may spread it, but it is a valuable component of a comprehensive tracing program that can improve its efficacy and success.

Users should expect to see the CA Notify app in the App Store on Thursday.

Update, December 10 (10:00 pm ET) — iPhone users can now enable exposure notifications in California.

Ca Notify Website

Ca Notify Website (Image credit: CA Notify)

California has finally rolled out its COVID-19 contact tracing technology called CA Notify. Instead of releasing an app, iPhone users can enable exposure notifications directly through their iPhone's Settings app:

  1. Update your iOS to version 13.7 or later
  2. Go into settings
  3. Scroll down to Exposure Notifications
  4. Turn on Exposure Notifications
  5. Select United States> California

As explained on the CA Notify website, turning on exposure notifications and keeping Bluetooth on is all you need to do.

Once you activate CA Notify, it does all the work. All you do is keep your Bluetooth on. You will only receive alerts if you were in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. Your privacy is protected as your identity is not known and your location is not tracked.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.