Apple and Google still talk to the UK about COVID-19 application technology

Team members and customers wear protective masks in front of an Apple store, as Switzerland facilitates blocking measures during the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Zurich, Switzerland, on May 13, 2020. REUTERS / Arnd Wiegmann

LONDON (Reuters) – Apple (AAPL.O) and Google (GOOGL.O) said they continued to talk to the British government about the technology used in the COVID-19 contact tracking application for smartphones, while the two companies launched the initial version of their own system.

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Britain has started testing an application that matches contacts on a centralized server, instead of the decentralized model preferred by Apple and Google, where matches take place on users' devices.

A centralized app can potentially provide more information about the outbreaks of COVID-19, but it offers less privacy than decentralized rivals, said the head of the UK program earlier this month.

Company officials who discussed the launch of Apple-Google exposure notification technology to public health officials said they continued talking to the British health service, while evaluating several different approaches.

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Reporting by Paul Sandle; Edition by Kirsten Donovan

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