Two big tech giants have announced their new project of a new exposure notification tool to collect data regarding the coronavirus. However, the new app seems showy but does not help a lot in control the spread of the virus.
Apple and Google announced that an exposure notification tool will be launch to help public health authorities in combating the spread of coronavirus. They will cooperate with countries to build their own notification apps. It is said that IOS devices and Android both can access the app. However, it is doubtful whether the government agencies will join their project. Even if they participate to build those apps, are people are willing to use them?
The apps seem not appealing to everyone. Only several countries and three US states are interested in the project. After the consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S., there is no sign that the app will be used in the whole nation.
Moreover, the effectiveness of the app is not as high as the public’s expectation. Apple and Google initially claimed the app can be a “contact tracing” tool. Two weeks later, they changed the name of the app to an “exposure notification” tool. The companies emphasize that it is just a helping hand in contact tracing to public health authorities. The authorities still need to develop, implement, and manage apps based on it as they see fit.
For those countries who have joined the program complained that the companies will not help to store the data collected in a centralized database. The apps were described as buggy and did not work properly as only apps that used the tool could run smoothly using minimal battery life in the background. Therefore, participants need to agree to Apple and Google’s terms and conditions in order to have the best possible chance of producing a functional app. Without location data being tracked and no centralized database to store it, the app is not user-friendly.
Privacy is a big issue with the wide application of the apps. Many privacy advocates also concern that data collected will be leaked to third parties. Only by strict requirements like maintaining users’ anonymity and no location data be used can it provide reassurance to their potential users.
The companies still need to improve a lot in their new project in a bid to win their potential customers’ hearts.