Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Apple and Google said on Wednesday that they have finished the initial version of their exposure notification technology and are making it available to health authorities to build their apps. Android and iOS are both getting updates today to enable the technology.

Why it matters: The Bluetooth-based technology is designed to augment human contact tracing and offer a way for people to find out when someone they have been in close proximity with has tested positive for COVID-19.

Where it stands: Apple and Google said they have provided access to a number of US states and 22 countries and expect more health authorities to take advantage of the technology in the coming weeks.

  • "Today, this technology is in the hands of public health agencies across the world who will take the lead and we will continue to support their efforts," the companies said.
  • North Dakota and Alabama were among the states that said they plan to quickly make use of the technology. It's not immediately clear how many states plan to use the technology or over what time frame.

Between the lines: The key question now is how broadly people will adopt the apps that use the technology. Apple and Google have sought to maximize privacy, in part to get the critical mass of users necessary to make the technology effective.

  • To protect privacy and limit the potential for abuse, the rules set by the companies require that no location data can be used, individuals have to voluntarily participate and only health authorities are permitted to access the technology.

How it works: Under the Apple-Google technology, each participating user's phone will send out a random and frequently changing key to identify itself. If someone later reports they tested positive, their phone broadcasts out the keys it came in contact with, allowing those other users to be notified.

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Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."

Aug 27, 2020 - Technology

Tech's deepening split over ads and privacy

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A new fight between Facebook and Apple over the mechanics of ad tech is surfacing an industry divide over user privacy and spotlighting longstanding dilemmas about the tracking and use of personal information online.

Why it matters: Privacy advocates have been sounding alarms for years about tech firms' expansive, sometimes inescapable data harvesting without making much headway in the U.S. But the game could change if major industry players start taking opposite sides.

Trump admin to buy 150 million rapid COVID-19 tests from Abbott

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and President Trump on Aug. 27. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Trump administration plans to purchase 150 million rapid coronavirus tests from Abbott Laboratories, the White House announced Thursday.

Why it matters: Abbott said Wednesday it plans to make 50 million of the $5 coronavirus tests by the start of October. COVID-19 testing, which is essential to tracking the spread of the virus, declined across the U.S. this month.