Apple and Google launched a jointly-developed Covid-19 (coronavirus) exposure tracking technology, designed to enable health authorities to develop contact-tracing apps.

In a statement, the companies said their Exposure Notifications technology was available to enable production of iOS and Android apps. The main purpose of the set-up is to provide services offering rapid notifications, “which is especially important to slowing the spread of the disease with a virus that can be spread asymptomatically”.

The tool will not collect or use location data from devices and users will be required to opt-in to any apps developed using it: “if a person is diagnosed with Covid-19, it is up to them whether or not to report that in the public health app”.

Apple and Google claimed the privacy protections would boost user adoption, considered a key element in the success of contact-tracing apps.

In separate Twitter posts, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet chief Sundar Pichai emphasised the technology aimed to help public health agencies in their tracing efforts, while protecting user privacy.

The companies revealed they were teaming up to develop the technology in April.