Home / Android / 2bn phones cannot use Google and Apple contact-tracing tech : Android

2bn phones cannot use Google and Apple contact-tracing tech : Android

2bn phones cannot use Google and Apple contact-tracing tech : Android

2bn phones cannot use Google and Apple contact-tracing tech

System developed by Silicon Valley depends on expertise lacking from older handsets

Caption: Smartphones which might be greater than 5 years outdated lack the required chips and software program required for the app

As many as 2bn cell phone house owners all over the world can be unable to use the smartphone-based system proposed by Apple and Google to trace whether or not they have come into contact with folks contaminated with the coronavirus, trade researchers estimate.

The determine contains many poorer and older folks — who’re additionally among the many most weak to Covid-19 — demonstrating a “digital divide” inside a system that the 2 tech companies have designed to achieve the most important attainable variety of folks whereas additionally defending people’ privateness.

Apple’s iPhones and units operating on Google’s Android working system now account for the overwhelming majority of the three.5bn smartphones estimated to be in energetic use globally at this time. That gives an enormous potential community to trace an infection, with surveys suggesting widespread public help for the concept.

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The two rivals are collaborating to develop a contact-tracing system for launch as quickly as subsequent month.

However, their scheme depends on particular wi-fi chips and software program which might be lacking from tons of of thousands and thousands of smartphones which might be nonetheless in energetic use, notably people who have been launched greater than 5 years in the past.

“The underlying technology limitation is around the fact that there are still some phones in use that won’t have the necessary Bluetooth or latest operating system,” mentioned Ben Wood, analyst at CCS Insight. “If you are in a disadvantaged group and have an old device or a [basic] feature phone, you will miss out on the benefits that this app could potentially offer.”

Public well being businesses are being requested to include the Silicon Valley firms’ expertise into their very own apps, which is able to notify folks if they’ve come into contact with an contaminated particular person and urge them to self-isolate. The extra folks choose in to utilizing the app, the extra profitable the system can be.

The specific sort of Bluetooth “low energy” chips which might be used to detect proximity between units with out operating down the cellphone’s battery are absent from 1 / 4 of smartphones in energetic use globally at this time, in response to analysts at Counterpoint Research. An additional 1.5bn folks nonetheless use fundamental or “feature” phones that don’t run iOS or Android in any respect.

“In all, close to 2bn [mobile users] will not be benefiting from this initiative globally,” mentioned Neil Shah, analyst at Counterpoint. “And most of these users with the incompatible devices hail from the lower-income segment or from the senior segment which actually are more vulnerable to the virus.”

Smartphone penetration and uptake of specific units varies extensively all over the world. In the UK, media regulator Ofcom mentioned final yr that about 80 per cent of adults personal a smartphone. However, Mr Wood estimates that solely round two-thirds of adults would have a appropriate cellphone.

“And that’s the UK, which is an extremely advanced smartphone market,” he mentioned. “In India, you could have 60-70 per cent of the population that is ruled out immediately.”

Counterpoint Research is extra optimistic, estimating that 88 per cent compatibility in developed markets such because the US, UK and Japan, whereas about half of individuals in India would personal the required handset.

“Apple and Google working together to enable the use of Bluetooth technology to help government agencies identify and arrest the spread of the virus is a step in the right direction,” Mr Shah mentioned.

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