These apps help in the fight against COVID-19

Making the job of medical frontliners easier



The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic shows no sign of slowing down. Most medical facilities are operating beyond their capacity as they try to accommodate and save the lives of those infected. Medical frontliners are leading the fight against the pandemic as they race to save as many lives as possible. As for most citizens, however, they are advised to stay at home to avoid the further spread of the disease.

However, that is not to say that citizens can’t do anything to stop the pandemic. One way for citizens to contribute to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is to donate to various organizations. There’s also another way: using apps that are crucial to assessing persons at risk and disseminating valuable information.

Here are some of those app:

1. ENDCov

A team of students from the Asian Institute of Management developed this app to assess whether a person is at risk from the disease. App users have to sign up and answer a survey that assesses them for their likeness to having COVID-19. The survey follows the latest surveillance guidelines set by the Philippines’ Department of Health and the World Health Organization.

The app will then determine a user’s health status and give advice on what steps to take next, including going on a self-quarantine or getting tested for the disease. Users can save the contact details of whom they’ve made contact with, as well as the places they’ve visited. This information is useful for frontliners doing contact tracing on a person under investigation.

Those who are skeptical about using the app due to privacy concerns can set aside their fears since the app conforms to RA 11332 (Mandatory Disclosure of Notifiable Diseases Act) and RA 10173 (Data Privacy Act of 2012).

2. WeTrace

WeTrace has been a lot of attention lately as a local alternative to apps that offer contact tracing. The app is the product of an IT expert based in Cebu. It uses geolocation for contact tracing and patient mapping.

To activate, the app needs an Internet connection. Once activated, it assigns a unique code to each device for personalization. It will then trace a user’s timeline and movements and notify other WeTrace users nearby. If a user gets infected, the app will automatically notify the authorities and other people who came into contact. Plus, there’s a reporting function built-in to the app itself.

Also, users can know if there are active cases in their community through its latest news function.

3. COVID Watch PH

This app is created by the Philippine government through the collaboration of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth). Like the other apps on this list, COVID Watch PH is a real-time patient monitoring and contact tracing app.

Aside from locating patients and providing instant updates, the app also provides a triage assessment. COVID-19 patients can also request for financial aid that shall cover any hospitalization bills.

4. RC143

RC143 is the official app of the Philippine Red Cross. The organization modified the app to better respond to the pandemic. The app uses machine learning along with the wireless and sensory data from a smartphone to trace back contacts with other persons and determine exposure to the disease. In case that the app diagnosed a user with a possible infection, a user can connect to Red Cross for medical assistance.

One neat feature of this app is that it can alert users if they have been to areas with a high risk of infection or a high number of active cases.

SEE ALSO: How to disinfect your tech from the coronavirus | Coronavirus porn is trending on Pornhub | Here’s where you can donate to the COVID-19 outbreak efforts | 4 ways you can use TikTok to help during the COVID-19 crisis

As general rules, the CDC or The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed these to help with preventing the spread of COVID-19:

  • Stay home when sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Frequently wash hands with soap and water
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces


What you need to know about the new Starbucks Rewards

Collect more stars with a few sips



Out with the old, in with the new! Starbucks Philippines freshened up its existing Rewards program to make it even more delightful to its customers.

With the new Starbucks Rewards, you can get one star with every PhP 25 spent on everything you buy — food, beverages, merchandise — in stores using your registered card or app.

When you accumulate 100 stars, it will be converted to a reward voucher. You can then choose to redeem a reward befitting your taste: a handcrafted beverage, any pastry, or even a slice of cake!

More benefits await

Starbucks’ new Rewards program brims with exciting benefits that anyone can enjoy. For starters, there’s a Double Star Registration Treat where new members can collect two stars for every PhP 25 spent on all eligible purchases for the first seven days upon successful registration.

The Double Star Days benefit is also back, but it’s not limited to the frantic holiday season. Moreover, Starbucks will offer Bonus Stars so you can collect two stars on their featured and promotional drinks.

Lastly, the Free Birthday Reward is still here and you can now choose between redeeming a food from their bakery/cafe or a complimentary handcrafted beverage.

How to be a member

The new Rewards program is exclusive for registered members only, so you have to join if you want to enjoy this exciting loyalty program. All you need to do is activate and register a Starbucks Card to Starbucks Rewards.

For existing members of My Starbucks Rewards, simply update your old password and add a new Starbucks Card to your account through the website or the updated Starbucks app, which is available on Google Play Store and the App Store.

Unlike before, you can now enjoy cashless payments and new features like automatic reloading through the Starbucks app. No more lining up to load your Starbucks card!

Say goodbye to your old Starbucks cards

FYI! Your previous Starbucks cards will stop working after July 15, 2020. This is to pave the way to the new Starbucks cards linked to the new program.

If you have an existing balance of PhP 100 or more, you can have it transferred to a free, new card. If it’s less than PhP 100, you can get a cash refund. Simply present your cards or your account on your mobile app to display the remaining balance.

The new Starbucks Rewards and Starbucks cards will be available starting July 17, 2020.

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Amazon bans TikTok for employees, reverses decision in a few hours

Everyone’s worried about using TikTok now



Amazon sent an internal memo to its employees, asking them to remove the TikTok from any mobile device that can access their company email. The memo was picked up by the mainstream media almost immediately and it served as an indication of how American companies are losing trust in the Chinese-backed app.

However, the company soon backtracked and an Amazon spokesperson said the request had been sent out in error and that there was no change to the company’s policies at the moment.

Company spokeswoman Jaci Anderson declined to answer questions about what caused the confounding turnaround or error. The original memo cited “security risks” as the reason for avoiding TikTok.

In response, TikTok failed to understand Amazon’s concerns. It did not receive any communication from Amazon before the email went out.

However, the social media app has received a lot of backlash from authorities due to its poor data privacy history. TikTok is banned in India and recently, the US suggested it’s considering a similar ban on the app.

Furthermore, US lawmakers have been concerned about the app for months now. The US army and navy instructed soldiers to delete the app from military devices in December. The biggest concern regarding TikTok is that its parent company, based in China, is required to share information collected on users with the Chinese government.

“We still do not understand their concerns, we welcome a dialogue so we can address any issues they may have and enable their team to continue participating in our community,” TikTok said.

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4K streaming could be cheaper soon

Thanks to the H.266 format



Watching 4K videos on YouTube or Netflix is taxing on mobile data, consuming about a gigabyte or more. But a new compression method could change 4K streaming soon.

Developed by Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute, the H.266 / Versatile Video Coding format aims to bring a more efficient way of compressing and streaming videos digitally. This new standard is meant to replace two existing standards — the H.264/AVC and H.265 HEVC.

Compared to the two, H.266 can transmit 4K videos at a much lower file size. The institute says H.266 can transmit a 10-minute UHD video at only 5GB of data.

This is almost 50 percent more efficient than the most advanced video format in the market, H.265 HEVC. Right now, HEVC requires 10GB of data to transmit the same 10-minute UHD video. As such, consumers can expect cheaper 4K streams with the H.266 format.

For example, a 25-minute 4K video that clocks in at 4GB can be streamed at a much lower 2GB with the new format. This will drastically reduce data and bandwidth consumption for consumers and companies.

The new video format also tries to solve the patent royalty system that has long plagued H.264 and H.265. Right now, companies have to deal with the messy system of paying licenses and royalties just to include these formats to their apps and websites. H.266 does away with these licenses, promising a better deal than the old formats.

Support and availability

As of right now, support for H.266 is being worked on both the software and hardware level. According to the institute that developed the format, Media Coding Industry Format is working on chip designs that support the new format on a hardware level.

Meanwhile, the institute is working on an encoder and decoder software which will be released this autumn.

It is worth noting, however, that H.266/VVC is not the only format that promises to improve 4K streaming on devices. Most tech companies today are adopting AV1 alongside VP9. These two formats are developed by separate organizations.

Right now, these formats — along with the H.266 — promise a better way of streaming 4K that will ultimately benefit everyone.

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