Germany Now Favors Apple-Google Contact Tracing API Over Home-Grown Solution

Germany said on Sunday it will use Apple and Google's decentralized contact tracing API, reversing course on its original intention to use its own solution to track the spread of coronavirus.

apple google contact tracing slide
Last week, the German government said it would use its own home-grown technology for smartphone-based tracing of infections, based on a design that would hold personal data on a central server.

According to Reuters, however, Apple refused to support Germany's original solution, which came in for heavy criticism from scientists, not just for its mass surveillance style but because of issues with the system's methodology.

Germany as recently as Friday backed a centralised standard called Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT), which would have needed Apple in particular to change the settings on its iPhones.

When Apple refused to budge there was no alternative but to change course, said a senior government source.

In their joint statement, Chancellery Minister Helge Braun and Health Minister Jens Spahn said Germany would now adopt a "strongly decentralised" approach.

Apple and Google on Friday disclosed a series of changes to their upcoming COVID-19 contact tracing initiative, with a focus on even stronger privacy protections and accuracy.

Apple and Google are now referring to "contact tracing" as "exposure notification," a secure system that is intended to notify a person of potential exposure, augmenting broader contact tracing efforts that public health authorities are undertaking.

Other countries that have been at odds with Apple and Google's initiative include France and the United Kingdom, both of which intend to use government-designed apps for contact tracing.

France has gone so far as to ask Apple to remove a Bluetooth limitation in iOS so that its app can work on iPhones, but the limitation is an intentional security feature and Apple is unlikely to compromise its software, especially as it is developing its own solution.

Apple and Google are targeting this week for the release of the seed version of iOS and Android operating system updates, which will support these APIs to enable testing by public health authority developers. The software update will support iOS devices released in the last four years, dating back to the iPhone 6s and ‌iPhone‌ 6s Plus.

Apple and Google revealed plans for its exposure notification initiative on April 10. The joint effort will use Bluetooth to alert users when they have potentially come in close contact with someone who later tests positive for COVID-19, on an opt-in basis.

Top Rated Comments

bluush Avatar
10 months ago
This is horrifying that people are going to these lengths. This is what the NSA is really after. Makes me want to go back to a land line.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Pupi Avatar
10 months ago
This is honestly an awesome way of tracing infection and potentially helpful to put the world back on its rails sooner rather than later, but the paranoid crowd are going to ruin it for everyone else aren't they.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
FrankieTDouglas Avatar
10 months ago
No, to any of this ********.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gnasher729 Avatar
10 months ago


Very nice, but how will it differentiate between close contacts and contacts trough walls, plexiglass, curtains etc when one gets infected? Or how will it calibrate individual devices to compensate for differences. Heck, if you wear it in a purse or in a pants pocket makes a rather large difference.
And we don’t know how long/close the proximity needs to be at what point during the infectious periode before. And the difference between sneezing/coughing or just breathing is huge.

I really would want this to work, but even besides security there are so many hurdles to tackle that it might never be useful.

You can only see problems. What you are missing is that there is no need for this to be perfect. It only needs to be good enough to reduce the number of infections. If you get infected, and five people who were close to you get informed plus one who was one meter away but behind a door, no harm done. Warning the five is much more important than not warning the one.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
the future Avatar
10 months ago
In German you call it the "normative Kraft des Faktischen" if previously stubborn people/politicians realize that there is no way around some basic, unconvenient facts – like Apple (and Google) not budging on the decentralized aspect of exposure notification – and (begrudgingly) alter their course. I'm just happy it happened so quickly in this case!
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ghanwani Avatar
10 months ago
No means no!
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iphone 5s black slate

Images of Unreleased iPhone 5s in Black and Slate Shared Online

Sunday January 17, 2021 9:47 am PST by
Twitter user @DongleBookPro has today shared images of a prototype iPhone 5s in an unreleased Black and Slate color. The iPhone 5s was launched in September 2013. The device featured Touch ID, a 64-bit processor, and a True Tone LED flash for the first time. Other new features included a five-element lens with an f/2.2 aperture, a 15 percent larger camera sensor, Burst Mode, and Slo-Mo...
iP12 charge airpods feature 2

Hidden iPhone 12 Hardware Feature Could Still be Unlocked

Thursday January 14, 2021 2:51 am PST by
All iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models purportedly have a hidden reverse wireless charging feature, according to an FCC filing. The feature has not yet been activated, but could yet be unlocked for an upcoming Apple accessory. The FCC filing suggests that iPhone 12 models contain the hardware for Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) to accessories: In addition to being able to be charged by a...
google maps detailed street level e1611052089473

Google Maps Gains Enhanced Street-Level Detail in Four Major Cities

Tuesday January 19, 2021 2:34 am PST by
Google Maps has quietly been updated to include significantly more detailed street-level information in a handful of key cities around the world. Upon zooming in, Google's maps for Central London, Tokyo, San Francisco, and New York now benefit from shapes and widths that match the scale of roads more accurately. Meanwhile, enhanced graphical representations of sidewalks, crosswalks,...
macbook pro flexgate

Apple Extends 13-Inch MacBook Pro Backlight Repair Program

Sunday January 17, 2021 10:31 am PST by
Apple this week extended its worldwide 13-inch MacBook Pro Display Backlight Service Program, authorizing coverage for eligible notebooks for up to five years after the original purchase date or up to three years after the start date of the program, whichever is longer. The previous cutoff was four years after the original purchase date. Apple launched the program on May 21, 2019 after...
lg wing

LG Considering Exit From Smartphone Business, Halts LCD Production for iPhone

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:38 am PST by
LG is considering exiting the smartphone business entirely amid declining shipments and accrued losses of $4.5 billion over the past five years (via The Korea Herald). LG CEO Kwon Bong-Seok cautioned staff earlier today that the company is re-evaluating its presence in the smartphone industry: Since the competition in the global market for mobile devices is getting fiercer, it is about...
airpods max sim ejector

AirPods Max Headband Removable With Just a SIM Ejector Tool, Hinting at Interchangeable Headbands

Tuesday January 19, 2021 8:25 am PST by
It is possible to remove the headband of AirPods Max with just a standard SIM card ejector tool, hinting at the possibility of interchanging headbands to achieve a different colorway. Image via Prelook In December, MacRumors revealed the large variety of AirPods Max ear cushion color combinations when it became clear that they were magnetically attatched and available for sale separately....
macbook pro screensaver table

Some M1 Macs Affected By Fast User Switching Screensaver Bug

Monday January 18, 2021 1:57 am PST by
A growing number of user reports online suggest some of Apple's M1 Mac models are susceptible to a Fast User Switching bug that spontaneously activates the screensaver and leaves the user unable to dismiss it. In macOS Big Sur, Fast User Switching allows users to quickly switch between user accounts without having to completely log out. Based on posts in the MacRumors forums, Apple...
Top Stories 43 Feature

Top Stories: MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Pro, and iPhone Rumors, Best of CES 2021

Saturday January 16, 2021 6:00 am PST by
This week was sure a busy one in the Apple world, with a flurry of announcements out of CES early in the week followed by a rash of Mac- and iPhone-related rumors later in the week. The new rumors this week included details on updated MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac Pro models, as well as a few other tidbits, so make sure to read on below to get caught up! Kuo: New MacBook Pro Models to...
shot on iphone 12 apple

Apple Highlights Photos Shot by iPhone 12 Users: Portraits, Cityscapes, and More

Tuesday January 19, 2021 6:05 am PST by
Apple today shared a gallery of photos shot by customers using the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max, with scenes including cityscapes, landscapes, portraits of people, and more at day and night. Shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max by "NKCHU" in China (top) and shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max by Rohit Vohra in India (bottom) iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 models have a dual camera ...
Apple and Hyundai feature

Apple Car Production Again Linked to Kia Motor's US Plant in Georgia

Tuesday January 19, 2021 4:19 am PST by
Hyundai intends to transition the company's Apple Car involvement to its Kia brand as part of an internal arrangement that could see production move to the U.S., according to a new report today. On Sunday, Korea IT News reported that Apple and Hyundai are seeking a partnership agreement for the upcoming Apple Car by March, and that the electric vehicles could be made at a Georgia factory...