Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Apple and Google announced a series of small changes to their coronavirus contact-tracing technology and shared additional technical details ahead of a launch in the coming weeks.

Why it matters: The system is likely to serve at the heart of major efforts around the world to use technology to detect potential coronavirus exposure, as it will be built into the two main smartphone operating systems.

What's new: Two weeks ago, the companies unveiled the system, which uses Bluetooth to determine if users have recently been in close proximity to someone with the coronavirus. Among the changes announced Friday:

  • The system will now share the strength of smartphone users' Bluetooth signals and allow public health authorities to set their own criteria for what constitutes a "contact."
  • The Bluetooth metadata will be encrypted to better protect against misuse of the technology to track individual users.
  • The protocol will share only rough time of shared contact, from a minimum of 5 minutes up to a maximum of 30 minutes, in 5 minute increments.
  • The numbers sent by each phone will now be randomly generated on a daily basis. In the initial proposal, each day's key was derived from another number that was tied to a particular device.
  • The companies are now dubbing the technology "exposure notification" to distinguish it from traditional contact tracing, in which health officials use patient data and interviews to build a record of people who may have been exposed to an illness.

Background: 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.

  • To protect privacy and limit the potential for abuse, no location data is used, individuals have to voluntarily participate and only health authorities are permitted to access the technology.
  • Google and Apple plan to release the technology in two phases. In the first phase, slated for mid-May, the two companies will build the technology into Android and iOS, but it will require a user to download an app. In the second step, the technology will be more deeply integrated into the operating system so people won't have to download a separate application to begin participating.

Go deeper: Why contact tracing is a key next step in slowing coronavirus' spread

Go deeper

13 hours ago - Health

15 states broke single-day coronavirus records this week

Data: Compiled from state health departments by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

At least 15 states broke their single-day novel coronavirus infection records this week, according to state health department data reviewed by Axios.

The big picture: The number of coronavirus cases increased in the vast majority of states over the last week, and decreased in only two states plus the District of Columbia, Axios' Andrew Withershoop and Caitlin Owens report.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 11,143,945 — Total deaths: 527,681 — Total recoveries — 6,004,593Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 2,818,588 — Total deaths: 129,584 — Total recoveries: 883,561 — Total tested: 34,213,497Map.
  3. States: Photos of America's pandemic July 4 ICU beds in Arizona's hot spot reach near capacity.
  4. Public health: U.S. coronavirus infections hit record highs for 3 straight days.
  5. Politics: Trump extends PPP application deadlineKimberly Guilfoyle tests positive.
  6. World: Mexican leaders call for tighter border control as infections rise in U.S.
  7. Sports: 31 MLB players test positive as workouts resume.
  8. 1 📽 thing: Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback.
13 hours ago - Health

In photos: America celebrates July 4 during global pandemic

Photo: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

The U.S. has already celebrated Easter, graduations and so much more during the coronavirus pandemic, and now it can add July 4 to the list.

The state of play: Axios' Stef Kight writes public parades and fireworks displays around much of the country are being canceled to prevent mass gatherings where the virus could spread. Hot-dog contests and concerts will play to empty stands and virtual audiences — all while American pride treads an all-time low.