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Orange in discussions with Apple over French app for COVID-19 tracking

Orange, a telecom company, is in “intense” discussions with Apple over developing France’s smartphone app for tracing people who are at risk of coronavirus infection, CEO Stephane Richard told Reuters.

“There are meetings almost every day. It’s not a done deal yet (…) but we have a discussion dynamic with Apple that is not bad,” Richard added.

Orange S.A., formerly France Télécom S.A., is a French multinational telecommunications corporation. It has 266 million customers worldwide and employs 89,000 people in France, and 59,000 elsewhere.

France wants Apple to remove a technical obstacle in iOS that it says is delaying a government contract-tracking app designed to contain the COVID-19 spread. The operating system prevents such apps that use its Bluetooth tech from running constantly in the background if that data is going to be moved off the device. The limit is designed to protect user privacy. 

Apparently, the French government doesn’t want to use the contact-tracking tech that Apple is jointly developing with Google. On April 10, Apple and Google announced a joint effort to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of COVID-19. They’ll launch a solution that includes APIs and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing. Given the urgent need, the plan is to implement this solution in two steps while maintaining strong protections around user privacy 

First, in May, both companies will release application programming interfaces [APIs] that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities. These official apps will be available for users to download via their respective app stores. Second, in the coming months, Apple and Google will work to enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms. 

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the news editor of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.