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Here’s how you’ll control COVID-19 contact tracing on Android

Instead of requiring a full OS update, Google is bringing exposure notifications to Android by leveraging Play services. Ahead of this month’s launch, the two companies are previewing contact tracing apps and what settings Android users will have to control COVID-19 contact tracing.

Google Play services powers first-party apps, security scanning, helps locate lost devices, and manage account settings. It’s always kept up-to-date in the background, and how Android devices (6.0 Marshmallow and newer) will get contact tracing that’s compatible with iOS devices later this month.

During the first stage of Apple and Google’s joint plan, users primarily interact with apps from public health agencies. There will also be system-level controls in the preferences for Google Play services. From the Settings app > Google, a new “COVID-19 Exposure Notifications” section quickly identifies whether the capability is “On.”

In the menu, there will be an “Exposure Notification sent from” list, with a shortcut to open the health agency app that you’ve downloaded. How many “Exposure checks” have been conducted in the past 14 days will be noted, along with the date/time of the last check.

Next are settings to “delete random IDs” and “Turn off Exposure Notifications.” In terms of how it works, Google notes that device location needs to enabled to detect nearby Bluetooth devices, but “COVID-19 Exposure Notifications don’t use device location.” The Android and iOS contact tracing system does not collect or use GPS data to preserve privacy.

The two companies today also previewed what third-party contact tracing apps will look like and released sample code.

More about contact tracing:

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: