Google adds support for virtual COVID-19 vaccine cards on Android devices

Its Passes API update makes it easier for healthcare organizations to create digital vaccine cards.


Google has updated its Pay app's "Passes API" to enable a simple way to store and display a digital card on Android showing users' COVID-19 test and vaccination details. The tech giant has given healthcare organizations, government agencies, as well as organizations authorized by public health authorities to distribute COVID vaccines access to the API. That means their developers can now easily create digital COVID vaccine and test cards that users can store on their device.

As 9to5Google notes, Passes is a Google Pay API used to store non-payment cards like retailer membership cards. However, there's no need for users to download the Pay app if they don't have it to be able to store the COVID digital cards created using the Passes API. Once they get the digital card, they'll be able to access it via a shortcut on their home screen even without an internet connection. That said, their devices must run Android 5 or later.

In the interest of assuaging users' privacy fears, Google says it doesn't retain a copy of people's COVID-19 vaccine and test information. The company also says it doesn't share data on the card with third party services and that it doesn't use the information for ad targeting. Users can show the card to anybody they want, of course, though they'll be required to have a lock screen on their device before they can store the card for their own safety. The Passes API update is only available in the US at the moment, but the tech giant promises that it will also roll out to other countries in the future.