The tracking system for patients with coronavirus from Apple and Google, the launch of which the companies announced a couple of weeks ago, was supposed to officially launch in mid-May. However, before releasing the new service to people, Apple and Google decided to test it on a limited audience of users. Therefore, on the night of April 29-30, the companies released an update with support for the new system. But if Apple did it openly, then Google chose not to draw attention to the test launch and released it in a very, very quiet way.
Tracking function for COVID-19 patients already appeared in Google Play Services
The user tracking system, which will later be used to identify contacts with patients with coronavirus, has become an integral part of the Google Play services update. True, for some unknown reason, Google is in no hurry to make this fact public, opening direct access to the update only to a limited audience of users. Most likely, this audience is limited only to developers, but this does not mean that you cannot try to activate the system on your own. Here's how to do it:
How to download the beta of Google Play Services
- Follow this link and register for the beta testing program for Google Play services;
- Open 'Settings' on your device and go to the 'Applications' section;
- Here find the 'Google Play Services' tab and open it;
Downloading the beta of Google Play Services isn't that hard
- Scroll down and go to 'App Details';
- In the window that opens, click 'Update' to install a test version of Google Play Services.
These steps will install the current beta version of Google Play services, which should include the new tracking system. I say 'should' instead of 'includes' because Google does not name a specific build containing the contact tracking interface. For this reason, I have no guarantees that the assembly you install actually supports the desired innovation. For example, I personally could not find any signs of a system on my smartphone.
How Google is tracking coronavirus patients
The tracking system will be released in mid-May
The system in question is designed to record users' contacts so that later they can notify them about cases of contact with coronavirus patients. It activates Bluetooth Low Energy on compatible devices and makes them emit a signal that other devices receive. If a user meeting lasts longer than five minutes, the fact is saved on both devices. Then, if one of the participants in the meeting turns out to be infected with COVID-19 and informs about it in a special application, everyone who contacted him will receive notifications about the need to take tests, of course, without specifying the names and meeting places.
Apparently, testing of the tracking system will last until mid-May, as originally planned. Then Apple and Google will release updates for their devices, making the system publicly available. Among users iOS the update will be received by owners of devices with iOS 12 and iOS 13, and among users Android – Android 6.0 Marshmallow and newer. At the same time, if you do not want to participate in the tracking program for patients with coronavirus infection, you can always turn off the system and maintain complete anonymity.