Tech giants Apple and Google on Friday announced a collaboration to help countries in their fight against the coronavirus pandemic by developing smartphone technology to enable contact tracing.

The two companies have partnered to create smartphone technology that is capable of alerting users if they have been in the proximity of a person infected with Covid-19. “Apple and Google will be launching a comprehensive solution that includes application programming interfaces [APIs] and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing,” Apple said in a press release.

The firms said they intend to implement their solution in two steps. “First, in May, both companies will release APIs [application programming interfaces] that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities,” they said. “These official apps will be available for users to download via their respective app stores.”

Follow live updates on coronavirus

In the second step, the two companies will create a Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform. “This is a more robust solution than an API [application programming interface] and would allow more individuals to participate, if they choose to opt in, as well as enable interaction with a broader ecosystem of apps and government health authorities,” the companies said.

The tech giants said that privacy, transparency, and consent of users remains their priority. “We will openly publish information about our work for others to analyse,” the companies said.

Covid-19, the highly-contagious disease caused by the coronavirus, has infected more than 17 lakh people across the world and killed 1,03,257 people, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University. The United States alone has more than 5 lakh cases of the coronavirus – the maximum in the world. Covid-19 has killed the maximum number of people – 18,849 – in Italy. India has over 7,500 cases and 242 deaths so far.