Google has officially confirmed that the Coronavirus tracking updates will be sent to all Android phones running Android version 6 or above through the Google Play Store. This way of sending the updates would be more stable and quicker compared to system-level updates to Android phones as it might be delayed due to the carrier and manufacture restrictions. Google is building this COVID-19 contact tracing system for smartphones in collaboration with Apple.
However, this update could not be made available to Android phones in China or Huawei devices due to certain pre-existing restrictions. Google is planning to publish a separate, secure framework of this anonymous tracking system that could be used by these companies to implement the coronavirus tracking system to their devices if they ever intend to. This method is advantageous because it ensures that even older Android phones that have stopped receiving system or security updates will still be able to receive this update through the Google Play Services in their device.
The first phase of this update will involve pushing the relevant APIs via the Google Play Services to enable interoperability between the Android and iOS smartphones using the official apps on both these platforms from public health authorities across the world. Following this, the second phase will include the APIs being built into the Android and iOS operating systems allowing a lot of users to take part in the Bluetooth enabled contact tracing system for tracking COVID-19.
While the first phase is expected to begin in May, there is no definitive time frame announced for the second phase, however, it is expected to be due in the coming months. This entire process has privacy as the main focus and neither the identity of the users involved or their location data would be revealed in this process. The device of the person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 will be able to transmit a list of everybody they have come in close contact with to the cloud and these people will be notified and be prompted to contact the local health authorities.