CaliforniaCalifornia rolled out a COVID-19 contact tracing app this week, and officials — including Apple CEO Tim Cook — touted it as an advancement that would help slow their ongoing surge in cases. Using the app will be easy. Measuring whether the app can deliver will be harder.
Nine months after Apple and Google first announced their partnership, contact tracing apps’ role in reducing viral transmission is still difficult to measure. Relatively few people have downloaded the apps, and because of the apps’ focus on privacy, it may be nearly impossible to quantify how well they’re actually able to help prevent disease.