Google has announced that the company updated its Passes API to enable Android users to store and access COVID vaccination certificates and test cards on the smartphone in a “simple and secure" way. A Google blog post states that developers from healthcare organisations, government agencies, and other public health sectors will have access to these APIs to create a digital version of COVID vaccination certificate from the app, which the company is calling ‘COVID Card.’ The card-feature is currently available in the US and will roll out in other countries later. The Passes typically works with Google Pay and allows users to manage and store loyalty programmes, gift cards, offers, tickets, and boarding passes. It is similar to Wallets on Apple iPhones that offer similar functionalities with compatible apps. The digital certificate can be saved from the healthcare provider’s app or website along with texts or emails sent to you - via dedicated prompt whenever that’s available. It will carry all crucial information that might be required at the time of verification at an airport or elsewhere.
Google says certificates will be accessible via a shortcut on the phone’s home screen, even when there’s very poor or no internet connectivity. The smartphone needs to run Android 5 or later without any separate access to Google Play to use this COVID Card feature. The software giant notes that the Passes for vaccines will be Play Protect certified to keep the Android phone safe against malware. “The COVID Card has been designed with privacy and security at its core," the post reads.
If a user wants to access this information on multiple devices, it will need to store the card on each device manually. Google says it does not retain a copy of the user’s COVID vaccination or test information. The information in the user’s COVID Card is further not shared by the company with its various services or third parties for ‘targeted ads.’ Android users can also protest the COVID Card with a lock screen, meaning a pin or biometric authentication will be required to access the certificate.