Last Friday, Apple launched a new application and a website dedicated to COVID-19 screening. The resources offer an online screening tool, information about the disease, and some guidance on when to seek testing or emergency care, according to a press release by the tech giant.
Apple developed the site and app in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the White House.
The screening tool asks users questions about their symptoms, recent travel, and contact they may have had with people who have had or been exposed to the virus. After completing the screening process, they’re taken to a page with recommended next steps that will also suggest whether they need to be tested for COVID-19.
Apple noted in the press release that the screening tool “does not replace instructions from healthcare providers or guidance from state and local health authorities.”
However, if the screening results indicate that the user may need to take a COVID-19 test, Apple doesn’t provide direct advice on where to get tested. It merely suggests that they “talk to someone about testing.” That’s likely because testing globally is inconsistent and limited in certain countries. Also, the CDC has urged people to contact their primary doctor before heading to a hospital in hopes of a test.
Apple says in the press release that it doesn’t collect or share data from the screening tool, nor does it require logging in with an Apple ID or any other account. It also doesn’t ask for location access, so the app doesn't give the user any localized recommendations.
In addition to these tools, users can also ask Siri “How do I know if I have coronavirus?” and Siri will have them respond to a few screening questions and point them toward information from the CDC.
Apple is not the first to offer online screening resources. Amazon’s Alexa can now help US users diagnose COVID-19, and the CDC offers an online assessment chatbot built on Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot service. Google sister company Verily has also launched a COVID-19 screening and testing website.
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