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Apple and Google say they'll work together to trace spread of coronavirus via smartphones

Image: A man wearing a face mask reads his phone on the subway in New York
A man wearing a face mask reads his phone on the subway in New York on Feb. 2, 2020.   -   Copyright  Robert Nickelsberg Getty Images file
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Apple and Google announced a partnership on Friday to try to use technology to trace the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The two companies said they would work together in the coming weeks to build new tools that would enable people and health authorities to track the virus using bluetooth proximity data from their smartphones.

"We hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday life," the two companies said in a rare joint statement.

Outside experts had been pleading with the two companies to join forces in just such an effort because of their unique position controlling the operating systems for the vast majority of the phones in the U.S. and Europe.