Google puts bluetooth function contact research via Play Services in Android

Google puts the bluetooth API for registering contact moments in its Play Services framework. As a result, it works on all phones with Android 6.0 and above without the need for an operating system update.

The Bluetooth API is a collaboration with Apple and is intended to allow apps to access a system where phones can exchange IDs in order to later warn users that they have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with the corona virus. That api will be released in mid-May and now Google has confirmed, including to 9to5Google, that the company will distribute the support via Play Services.

Google can push updates to Play Services to all phones with Google services on board, even if they run an outdated operating system and even if the manufacturer has stopped supporting it. Play Services runs on Android 6.0 or higher, which is presumably on almost all active Android phones in the Benelux.

The internet company will also publish a framework for Android phones that don’t have Play Services, like many of Huawei’s recent models. If Huawei builds in that framework, apps that use Google’s api can still conduct contact research via Bluetooth. It is still unknown whether and when Huawei can and will release the necessary software for this.

Google and Apple both only allow licensed health organizations to use the api; it is not available for other apps. Apple will push an update of iOS to build in the api. That will probably happen next month.