European Union industry leader Thierry Breton says Apple CEO Tim Cook told him that the first version of the COVID-19 contact tracing API will be available weeks earlier than expected, on April 28. Breton’s comments came after a conference call with Cook.
Breton said in a statement that Apple has a “responsibility” to make sure that contact tracing apps work on its iPhones, reports Reuters.
It is “the responsibility of companies such as Apple to do their utmost to develop suitable technical solutions to make the national apps work. Coordination with EU member states’ health authorities is paramount,” Breton said in a statement.
I just had a good exchange with #Apple CEO @tim_cook on the need to ensure that contact tracing apps are fully:
and interoperable across operating systems and borders.#Deconfinement apps must respect our #privacy. pic.twitter.com/VrnUXOsrat
— Thierry Breton (@ThierryBreton) April 22, 2020
The comments come on the heels of the French government’s complaint that Apple needs to change the privacy settings of its iPhones to allow the French-designed contact tracing app to work properly.
Apple prevents contract-tracing apps from using Bluetooth in the background if the collected data is to be moved off the device. This is designed to protect the user’s privacy, but France wants Apple to change this policy.
Apple is working with Google to develop its own Bluetooth-based smartphone tracking solution to allow governments and health agencies to reduce the spread of the coronavirus while also protecting user privacy.
Apple had originally said the API would be released in May and would enable Android and iOS devices to work together using apps from public health authorities.
Apple and Google say they will work together to enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building the functionality into their underlying platforms. The solution is more robust than an API and will allow more users to participate on an opt-in basis.