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Singapore will make Coronavirus tracking app technology freely available

One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind – Neil Armstrong

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Singapore will soon open-source (open up) a smartphone technology that helps track citizens’ encounters with Coronavirus carriers. Called TraceTogether, it’s developed by the government to prevent community-spread of the fatal virus that has killed thousands worldwide.

The government is urging citizens to run so that if they encounter a Coronavirus carrier, it’s easier to trace who else may have been exposed to the virus. Why run? Because that plunges your chances of contracting the virus since the encounter will barely be a second. Not to forget, it’s an excellent way to exercise. This way, health authorities are in a better position to detect, treat, and quarantine affected patients.

To reserve a user’s privacy, Singapore’s app is opt-in and doesn’t track users through space, instead, it records who you have encountered. If you come across someone who was exposed, the app will exchange four essential bits of information — a timestamp, Bluetooth signal strength, the phone’s model, and a temporary identifier or device nickname.

On the other end, If a user has diagnosed positive, they enable the health authorities to access their app data to identify people who had close contact with the infected individual.

Addressing privacy concerns, the government has assured that the user’s data is never accessed and all their personal details remain safe. If you’re still paranoid, you can simply check the app settings to confirm whether the app has access to your files, contacts, and other essential hardware.

Now, Singapore is ready to share their app and its back-end technology with the whole world.

From Israel to South Korea to China, governments around the world are using technology to track the Coronavirus outbreak as they race to stem its spread. In China, government-installed CCTV cameras pointed towards the apartment door of those under a 14-day quarantine to ensure they don’t leave.

Germany hopes to launch a similar smartphone app within weeks to help trace Coronavirus infections. Even they’ve shown interest in replicating the Singaporean model. And now that the technology is freely available, it’ll be easier for countries to adopt and adapt than to start from zero.

The Indian government has also launched an app called Corona Kavach (literally meaning Corona Shield) to track individuals by their smartphone locations and curb the community spread of Coronavirus. It’s built on the same concept that Singapore’s government has worked on. But, it’s still in beta. With a population of 1.3 billion and one of the worst healthcare systems, the country is highly vulnerable to the virus. Again, the government promises data privacy.

SEE ALSO: How to disinfect your tech from the coronavirus | Coronavirus porn is trending on Pornhub | Here’s how Facebook is trying to fight coronavirus


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

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Apps

French privacy watchdog is now probing TikTok

As if the US and India weren’t enough

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A silver lining for TikTok still isn’t clearly visible. Backed by Chinese giant ByteDance, the short-video sharing app is now being investigated by French watchdog CNIL. The app is already under scrutiny in multiple countries, including the US and India.

A spokesperson from CNIL confirmed to Bloomberg that it had received a complaint in May. However, they’ve refrained from divulging any further information. However, they did say that the agency is particularly vigilant regarding this complaint.

TikTok hasn’t responded yet. Other European countries like the Netherlands have also opened an investigation to ensure TikTok’s practices are safe for children. The British watchdog has also started a similar case study to ensure the Chinese app isn’t breaching any data protection norms.

India is the only country to have completely banned the app following an Indo-China border skirmish. However, the country has taken an even more radical stance against Chinese developers and banned more than a hundred apps. This includes TikTok, TikTok Lite, Camscanner, UC Browser, and many more.

President Trump has threatened to ban TikTok in the US and negotiations are underway that could see a potential sale of TikTok’s services to Microsoft. TikTok has rejected claims that it’s controlled by the Chinese government or that user data is at risk.

However, independent analysis has suggested mixed results. A study says the app is a mass surveillance tool, but another report states that the app follows all usual protocols and there isn’t anything to worry about.

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News

Xiaomi wants to make its own processor, Huawei ban no deterrent

Xiaomi is betting big

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Pretty much every major smartphone maker today relies on a third-party for processors. Qualcomm and MediaTek lead the race, while Samsung has its in-house Exynos lineup. Huawei’s Kirin series has long been its first choice of processor for flagships, but this could change soon.

Xiaomi wants to join this elite club and intends to continue working on its own chips. According to Xiaomi founder and CEO Lei Jun, the Chinese smartphone maker continues to design its own chips and shall announce the results when new developments are made.

The announcement’s timing is of utmost importance since US-China relations have radically deteriorated in the last couple of years. The ban on Huawei has revoked its access to Arm chip designs. It means that the telecom giant can no longer produce any Kirin-branded processor.

The ban sets a negative precedent for Chinese companies that inherently depend on Western technology. It’s like a stack and the processor’s design is the heart. All new developments are made on top of each other, making it near-impossible for Chinese companies to move forward without Arm design.

Amid the uncertainty, Xiaomi’s announcement is confidence infusing. It first released its in-house chip in 2017 and was called Surge S1. The affordable chipset has been seen in Mi 5C only so far.

After the Huawei ban, Chinese companies have ramped up their effort to go truly independent. The Chinese government has also rolled out tax incentives to boost chipset production. On the same lines, Huawei has intensified its efforts to develop Harmony OS, a direct competitor of Android.

These bets are all long-term in nature and it’s unlikely we’ll see any advancement in the near future. But, the US-China clash has kickstarted a new race, a race that’s aimed towards digital technological superiority.

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Enterprise

Apple’s Tim Cook is now worth a billion dollars

Officially a billionaire

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A few years ago, Apple earned the highly distinguished status of becoming a trillion-dollar company. Without pausing to catch its breath, the company is already barreling towards the 2-trillion mark. Coinciding with his company’s success, Apple’s Tim Cook is now worth a billion dollars.

According to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, Cook’s net worth has just passed the US$ 1 billion mark just as Apple’s shares substantially grew last week. Just recently, the company announced a 4-in-1 split for its stocks due to the success.

The Apple CEO’s new position in the success column is an interesting one. Unlike his peers in the industry, Cook is one of the few CEOs who did not found his own company. The current leader took over the reins from the late Steve Jobs back in 2011. Since then, Apple’s success skyrocketed to its current status today. Back in 2015, amidst all the riches he acquired, Cook promised to give away most of his money to philanthropic endeavors.

Apple’s recent success is a stroke of good news compared to other big tech companies in the US. Last week, the biggest tech CEOs faced an onslaught of antitrust issues surrounding the tech industry. For example, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg failed to defend his bullying and acquiring tactics to stomp competitors down. Though surviving this barrage, Apple is currently facing its own set of issues worldwide, including antitrust issues in the EU and a strange branding lawsuit in Canada.

If the current trend continues, Apple is set to ascend even further up the ranks of tech companies in the near future.

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