The CDC's guidance on contact tracing apps align with Apple and Google

Apple Google Partner On Covid 19 Contact Tracing Technology
Apple Google Partner On Covid 19 Contact Tracing Technology (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • The CDC has released new guidance around contact tracing apps.
  • Their guidance aligns with the kind of system and Apple and Google are building.
  • The companies are expected to show examples of apps using their technology next week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published a new document that outlines what the agency believes to be the critical feature necessary for a successful contact tracing app. Reported by CNBC the contents of the document seem to indicate that Apple and Google's solution falls in line with the CDC's thinking.

"In the latest CDC publication, the group cites the "PACT protocol" as an example of the recommended method for using "Bluetooth enabled proximity tracking" while maintaining privacy. As CNBC reported earlier this week, Apple and Google, in developing a contact tracing system, took several ideas from PACT, an open-source protocol developed under the leadership of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology."

Apple and Google opened their API to developers today, and according to CNBC, the companies plan to show examples of apps using the technology next week.

"The companies will unveil sample apps using their system early next week, company representatives said and released beta software for developers on Wednesday. Apple and Google have said they're leaving it to public health authorities to decide what system to make and how to implement it."

Apple and Google's contact tracing apps, while beneficial, won't replace traditional case management software. Whereas the apps are built to be used by individuals, case management software is designed to be used by the health agencies themselves. The upcoming contact tracing apps are, according to the CDC, to be "used in addition to contact tracing case management tools."

"Case management software is sold to public health organizations in states and cities and can incorporate health-oriented privacy practices, including automating direct outreach to contacts of people who have tested positive. Consumer-facing apps, downloaded from Apple and Google's app stores, are described by the CDC as "proximity tracing," though the companies prefer to call it "exposure notification." The CDC bulletin doesn't mention Apple or Google by name."

The next phase of Apple and Google's efforts will be to build contact tracing directly into each respective operating system to make it even easier for users to opt into the program.

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.