Apple and Google to Make It Easier to Opt In to Virus Tracing

Several state governments may soon send residents an alert asking them to turn on “exposure notifications.”

On Tuesday, Apple and Google said they would make it easier for states to use their new technology that detects phones that come close to one another and can notify people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus.

States that sign on will be able to send a notice directly to smartphones asking people to opt in to the technology. Previous versions of the technology had required people to seek out a state health agency’s app.

The new approach could spur the popularity of such virus alert technology in the United States by significantly lowering the hurdles for its use. Maryland, Virginia, Nevada and Washington, D.C., already plan to use the new system, Apple and Google said, and about 25 other states were exploring using the earlier app version.

In a statement, Apple and Google called the changes a “next step in our work with public health authorities.” They said the shifts would help “public health authorities to supplement their existing contact tracing operations with technology without compromising on the project’s core tenets of user privacy and security.”

In April, Apple and Google