Google Releases Update for Android Coronavirus Patient Tracking System

Google has never been particularly agile in updating its apps and services. As a rule, the company prefers to distribute updates gradually, so that, if any problems are found, they can be withdrawn at an early stage. It's a long-standing rule that maintains a sense of stability in all the updates that the search giant releases. However, there are updates that simply cannot be distributed gradually, but urgently need to be rolled out to everyone at once. Of course, this is a tracking system for patients with coronavirus.

Google Releases Update for Android Coronavirus Patient Tracking System

The tracking system appeared in both iOS and Android, but has not really worked yet

To be honest, I didn't think Google would be so quick on this issue. Of course, last night, when Apple released iOS 13.5 with contact tracing, nothing like that appeared on Android. However, this morning I once again randomly went into the settings and discovered a completely new menu item for myself and for my smartphone called 'COVID-19: Contact Tracking'. Apparently, it appeared at night as a result of updating Google Play services, which Google did not ask me about, unlike Apple, of course, it didn’t ask, deciding that it could make such decisions for me. Anyway. Let's figure out what this beast can do.

How to enable and disable tracking on Android

Google Releases Update for Android Coronavirus Patient Tracking System

Finding the tracker in the settings is quite simple, but it is possible that you need to update Google Play services for it to appear.

To begin with, the contact tracking mechanism on different smartphones is located in completely different places, which means that it makes no sense to write the exact path along which to look for innovation. Therefore, I recommend using the search. This, it seems to me, is in every firmware. Just open 'Settings' and write “COVID” in the search bar. My Honor View 20 found it instantly from the first two letters of the abbreviation, and I think your device will not be dumber.

As you can see, Apple and Google have made it so that the contact tracing system will not work unless you install a dedicated reporting application. Its development is entrusted to the local health authorities. But, since the Russian Ministry of Health is not accountable to either Apple or Google, there is a possibility that the utilities for activating the tracking system cannot be expected from it. However, this does not make the innovation itself less interesting.

How Android monitors coronavirus patients

Google Releases Update for Android Coronavirus Patient Tracking System

Apple and Google say their system is as secure as possible. But the question of its effectiveness remains open.

The system description says that it will not work if Bluetooth is not enabled. That is, in order to constantly exchange a signal with other devices, you will have to constantly keep the wireless communication protocol active. Information about your contacts will be stored on your smartphone in the form of random identifiers without indicating the model number of the person who contacted you, the meeting place and other data that can be used for deanonymization. These identifiers will be stored for 14 days and then deleted, because this period is considered the incubation period of the coronavirus.

The system determines not only the fact of a meeting, but also a number of other factors that can increase or decrease the likelihood of infection:

  • Date of contact (if more than two weeks have passed since its moment, and you have not been informed about the need to take an analysis, most likely you are not infected);
  • The duration of the contact (contacts less than 5 minutes are not counted, since it is believed that in this case the risk of infection is minimal);
  • Signal strength Bluetooth (thus revealing the distance at which the contacts were with each other).

After installing the application (which, perhaps, will not be released in Russia at all), users will be able to report there if they suddenly find out that they are infected with the coronavirus. Then the application will quickly match all your contacts and notify those with whom you met. The alert will be something like the following: 'Contact with an infected COVID-19 was recorded. Get tested to make sure you are not infected. ' No specifics about who could infect you, where and under what circumstances it happened. In general, everything is in order to ensure confidentiality.

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