It’s rare to see Apple and Google collaborating together for something, but when the situation is dire, petty grievances are to be set aside. Following that idea, the two companies have joined forces and announced a joint COVID 19 tracking tool in the works.

Engineering teams from both companies have come together to form a “decentralized contact tracing tool”, which will help users determine if they have come in contact with someone carrying the virus, reports TechCrunch.

Starting off as an API to be accessed by different apps, the tool will soon segue into “system-level contact tracing system.” The tool will use radios that are available on devices to transmit an anonymous ID over short ranges — using Bluetooth beaconing. The server will then relay a user’s activity for the last 14 days to find a match, which is based upon the time spent and distance maintained between two users. In case you match up with a corona positive patient, you would be notified to get yourself checked and to employ self quarantine measures.

The API will be released in May for different apps to integrate to their platforms. The companies noted that the API is a simple one and should be easy to integrate to existing apps. The second phase of this approach brings the tracking tool to the operating system level, where users will be able to just opt for the system to track their activity. This will not only provide a wider customer base to the platform but also solve multiple issues like improving battery life and privacy. It should be noted that even with the second phase complete, apps that integrated the API to their platforms will have access to it.

All of this would be voluntary, where users can choose to be tracked or not. Contact tracing is a controversial technology, putting privacy of users at jeopardy at every step. However, both companies have taken intricate measures to ensure that the privacy of users who opt the tool is maintained. First, the tool will not access your location at any time. Moreover, the random rotating identifier provided to a user, that relays every 15 minutes to the server, will contain no personal information. More so, the list of identifiers you’ve been in contact with, doesn’t leave your phone unless you choose to share it. The companies can choose to disband the service when it is no longer needed. Apple and Google also said that they are willing to maintain transparency about the work they have done with the tool.

The two companies decided to get in bed for this project to widen the user base. Dividing the tool between different OS platforms would have limited the tracking capability. Thus, engineering teams from both companies started working on the project two weeks ago, to refine the search process.

Here’s a series of images explaining the whole process: