October 26, 2020

Google-Apple partnership may be tech-limited, and more tech news today

Strange times are here: Apple and Google are working together. But not all believe the partnership can make a difference.

Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily newsletter, for Monday, April 13.

1. Apple/Google: Together at last, but will it help?

In case you missed it while this newsletter was Eastering, Google and Apple are working together on a (voluntary) coronavirus tracking app.  Which actually looks well-thought-out, considered, automated, anonymous, secure-ish, and useful. But not all agree…

The details:

  • The deal is to try and work on a solution across both Android and iOS, and therefore about 99% of smartphones in use, to keep track of whether a smartphone’s owner has come into contact with someone who turns out to have been infected with COVID-19.
  • If that person is diagnosed with COVID-19 later, a warning will be sent to users affected, who can then self-isolate/get tested/seek help.
  • The suggested implementation is clever and doesn’t compromise location privacy, involving daily keys being shared locally, not uploaded, unless a positive diagnosis is entered into the app, and consent given.
  • Google/Apple’s own (three page PDF) breakdown is interesting:

  • And WIRED has a solid breakdown looking into all the right issues not overtly discussed by the companies: How Apple and Google are enabling COVID-19 contact-tracing.
  • Phase one: will be Apple/Google official APIs for third-party apps – meaning simpler, safer tech for other apps to use: “First, in May, both companies will release APIs that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities. These official apps will be available for users to download via their respective app stores.â€�
  • The NHS in the UK will use this, for example.
  • Then comes built-in capabilities within iOS and Android themselves: “Second, in the coming months, Apple and Google will work to enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms.”
  • The ACLU said the plan “appears to mitigate the worst privacy and centralization risks,â€� which is basically as good as you can get.

Buuut:

  • The problems stack up quick. It’s not going to be perfect given it’s opt-in, although countries like Singapore enforce compliance with its own app.
  • Why may it be ineffective, though? I don’t have a fully formed opinion, but the insights we’re seeing from those in the know, including Ross Anderson, Professor of Security Engineering at Cambridge University, are well worth reading.
  • Prof Anderson explains many of the problems (with a UK perspective): “contact tracing in the real world is not quite as many of the academic and industry proposals assume,â€� he writes, and says ultimately, “What we need is a radical redistribution of resources from the surveillance-industrial complex to public health.â€�
  • Worthy of your time.

2. 6 months later, here’s everything good and bad about the OnePlus 7T Pro (Android Authority).


3.  LG V60 review: Price, battery life, screen, performance, and headphone jack are big ticks. Camera performance is only ok, and LG’s software needs work (Android Authority).


4. I wrote something on how being home all the time means no battery life worries on my phone, and it’s probably the same for you. And that’s how it should be all the time: battery life still matters most (Android Authority).


5. Apple plans iPad-like design for iPhone 12: flat stainless steel edges, and more sharply rounded corners plus 5G, and LIDAR (Bloomberg). Also, Apple registered applecoronavirus.com domain name: pre-emptive to fight trolls? (MacRumors).


6. IKEA’s smart blinds are finally available to buy online, not just in-person (which you can’t do, anyway) (Engadget).


7. Why Amazon shipments are slow during the pandemic (CNET).


8. Foxconn’s buildings in Wisconsin are still empty, one year later. Continuing good work here by The Verge.


9. So, why was a Tiger able to get a Coronavirus test? (Gizmodo).


10. With far less traffic thanks to coronavirus-induced quarantines, drivers are pushing down hard on their accelerators. Tickets, and cross-country Cannonball run records are the result (NY Times).


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