Ramping up its efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic, Apple has ensured that COVID-19 test centres will soon appear in the Maps app. The company has also launched a new web portal, wherein hospitals, healthcare providers, labs, and other businesses can register themselves as COVID-19 test centres.
Once you have registered, Apple will then review these applications, and when approved, they would appear on the Apple Maps app as coronavirus testing locations. The feature is only available in the US, but it would be rolled out in other countries soon.
Testing centres will be indicated with an asterisk sign on the Maps app along with other details, including names, associated healthcare providers, and contact details for the website. Additionally, the Maps app will also reveal if the highlighted COVID-19 testing centre requires a doctor’s referral or a prior appointment.
The move comes shortly after Apple announced a collaboration with Google for the COVID-19 contact tracing system, which will use Bluetooth technology to help governments curb the spread of the virus. Google has said that it will use the Google Play Services infrastructure to push the update on Android phones running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or above.
But there are still a large number of Android devices that don’t benefit from Google Play services, including Huawei phones – after the US imposed a ban on Huawei, Google can’t export software to Huawei. All phones in China, too, don’t benefit from Google Play services. For these devices, Google is working on a framework that would replicate the contact tracing system being developed by Google and Apple. After publishing the framework, it will then be up to Chinese players, including Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, Huawei, to decide whether to use the system or not.
The two companies are working on a comprehensive solution to develop the contact tracing system, which will include APIs and OS-level technology. These APIs would be used to facilitate interoperability between Android and iOS devices.