For the upcoming COVID-19 contact tracing system, Google has confirmed that it will use the Google Play Services infrastructure to update Android phones. This system is being developed by Google and Apple.
It ought to make the updates more widely available and increase the proportion of Android devices that receive them, particularly those with Android Marshmallow 6.0 or later.
A definitive answer to this question has been elusive until today; however, it is of critical importance to Google. Because no other system is as dependable as Google Play for rapidly distributing updates to Android devices. Complete OS updates, on the other hand, are frequently delayed by both carriers and manufacturers.
Google claims that its update system will be compatible with both the upcoming initial API rollout and the subsequent stage, in which the APIs are integrated into the operating system, of the Bluetooth contact tracing framework. Companies are only able to say that stage two will begin “in the coming months.”
All Android phones sold in China, and any Huawei phones sold elsewhere in the world after the US imposed restrictions, do not have access to Google Play services. Huawei could not implement this system on its phones because Google is not allowed to export software to Huawei, just as Huawei is not allowed to include Chrome or Gmail.
Google plans to publish a framework for these phones that would allow other manufacturers to create a tracking system similar to the one developed by Google and Apple while maintaining user anonymity. The fate of the system ultimately rests in the hands of Huawei, Xiaomi, and other Chinese manufacturers (or the Chinese government).
This is the method Google employs for its Project Mainline update system, which was introduced last year for newer versions of Android. However, all changes made to Project Mainline are released to the public without restriction. Google did not comment on whether or not this system would be effective, but it did say that it would provide code audits to businesses that were interested in implementing something similar.
Go Ahead and Get the Official App.
If your country or state allows it, you may be able to find an official app developed by your local health department in the App Store.
To indicate compatibility with the Exposure Notifications System, compatible apps are labeled with a badge. This badge indicates an app’s compatibility with the Exposure Notifications System; apps without this badge are not supported by the system.
To Obtain an Authorized App, One Must:
- Learn what apps are obtainable in your area.
- Get it from the Play Store if it’s an app.
- How to activate exposure alerts is explained within the app. Contact the app’s developer if you need assistance.
- In the event of an exposure, alerts can be set up in your device’s preferences.
- If available in your country, you can enable Exposure Notifications by going to your phone’s settings.
- Launch the Android device’s configuration utility.
- To receive alerts about COVID-19 exposure, go to Google and select the relevant menu item.
- You can check if your region supports Exposure Notification by going to Settings. If it does, you won’t need to install any additional software.
Modify Your Phone’s Settings if Necessary.
- Check that your mobile OS is Android 6.0 or higher. Find out what your Android version is and how to update it.
- Activate the Bluetooth feature on your mobile device. Find out how to activate Bluetooth on your devices.
- For devices running versions of Android prior to Android 10, activate the location services. Find out how to activate Location. This is how the system looks for Bluetooth devices, but it does not collect or track your location in any way. Find out the necessity of having the location turned on for the system to function.
- Location services are optional for Android 11 devices.
The Operation of Risk Alerts
When you sign up for the Exposure Notifications System, it will randomly assign your device a new ID. Your phone’s random ID is automatically updated every 10-20 minutes to avoid being tracked.
In the background, your phone connects with other nearby devices over Bluetooth to exchange these random identifiers. Phones automatically record and save the unique identifiers of nearby devices whenever they sense them.
If you have the person’s ID on file and they report having COVID-19, your app will alert you to take the necessary measures.
In What Ways Is Exposure Measured?
Your device does all of the matchings for Exposure Notifications. If you report having COVID-19 or being exposed to someone who has reported having COVID-19, only you and your government’s public health officials decide what symptoms could indicate exposure.
If you may have come in contact with someone who reports themself as having COVID-19, the system may share information to help determine whether the contact meets the criteria for exposure, including:
- On the day of contact.
- The length of time that two people were in constant communication with one another.
- The Bluetooth signal strength of that contact.
- It is important to note that your location is not used by the Exposure Notifications System itself.
- The Exposure Notifications System and the Maintenance of Confidentiality
- You decide to join the system and expose your information to others.
Putting in the effort required to make this method effective is required. If and when you want to share your data, and whether or not you receive exposure notifications, are both under your control. For those infected with COVID-19, you may choose to alert others to the possibility of exposure by disclosing your unique identifiers.
What Information Is Collected and How It Is Used by The Exposure Notification System
In order to provide you with its services, the Exposure Notification system requires access to certain information stored on your device.
Google Play services are utilized by some of these features. Diagnostic and other performance data is gathered by the Exposure Notification system, for example, and then analyzed and used for troubleshooting. While in transit, data is encrypted.
You are anonymous to search engines, mobile operating systems, and other users.
Your device does all of the matchings for Exposure Notifications. If you report having COVID-19 or being exposed to someone who has reported having COVID-19, only you and your health authority will know about it. No other users, Apple, or Google will ever know who you are.
You Won’t Be Followed Around Anywhere
Nothing about your device’s location is gathered or used by the Exposure Notifications System. Bluetooth is used, which allows for the detection of proximity between devices without revealing their precise locations.
Your local health department is also prohibited from using your phone’s location services or conducting hidden background tracking.
You can find out why in versions of Android prior to Android 10, location services must be enabled for Exposure Notifications to function.
Only Public Health Authorities Can Use This System
The system is restricted to apps created by official public health authorities. Privacy, security, and appropriate data use are all requirements for their apps.