GPS Is Not Allowed Along with Google and Apple’s Contact Tracing App

Google and Apple announced they will now allow apps to enable GPS in conjunction with their joint Bluetooth contact tracing solution, leaving some countries and other companies to look for alternative solutions.

Contact tracing with the help of smartphones and other devices raises some privacy issues, but it’s been used with some success in several countries. The solutions were developed individually using existing technologies, but Google and Apple are looking to build a unified system that allows Android and iOS phones to talk to each other by using Bluetooth (BLE – Bluetooth Low Energy).

The two tech giants aim to implement the foundation for contact tracing directly into the OS, which means most modern devices will be compatible. Unfortunately, some estimates say about 1 billion active devices won’t be compatible.

According to a Reuters report, a few developers in U.S. states want to use the GPS in conjunction with the tracing function, which would allow authorities to understand better how the infection is spreading or where it’s been. The problem is that the use of GPS raises even more privacy issues.

Both Google and Apple have already said that their solution wouldn’t let developers use GPS alongside Bluetooth. This only means that developers will build their own solutions, and both tech giants warned that other apps would heavily drain the batteries.

In turn, the use of alternative applications, besides the ones provided by Google and Apple, means that contact tracing won’t be as efficient.

Furthermore, the Google-Apple joint venture already said that only one app per country would be allowed, which should help broaden adoption. While the collaboration will likely lead to less fragmentation, numerous other software solutions are in production, and not all countries or U.S. states will agree with the limitations of the official implementation of contact tracing in Android and iOS.

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