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Apple, Google, Amazon block nonofficial coronavirus apps from app stores

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James Martin/CNET
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Earlier this month, Apple started cracking down on apps related to the coronavirus outbreak. It reportedly rejected apps from at least four developers whose apps would’ve displayed stats about which countries had confirmed cases of the disease, which has since been labeled a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Now Apple’s making that ban official.

In a statement posted to its developer website Saturday, Apple said it would accept coronavirus-related apps only from “recognized entities such as government organizations, health-focused NGOs, companies deeply credentialed in health issues, and medical or educational institutions.” The company said it wants to ensure “data sources are reputable.”

 

To help get approved apps out quickly, the company said any developers that meet its criteria can mark their submissions as part of a “Time-Sensitive Event.” That will expedite their review.

“Communities around the world are depending on apps to be credible news sources — helping users understand the latest health innovations, find out where they can get help if needed or provide assistance to their neighbors,” Apple said in its statement. “Now more than ever that commitment takes on special significance as the world fights the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Amazon’s approach has been similar to Apple’s, blocking all coronavirus apps from unofficial sources. Google’s taken a similar tack, blocking results for searches related to the coronavirus or COVID-19, and instead only pointing people toward the WHO’s website and “trusted apps.”

The three companies’ moves follow pleas from the White House earlier this week for tech companies to help stop misinformation and disinformation about the coronavirus from spreading online. Already, fake accounts online have spread incorrect rumors about where the virus originated, celebrities who may have contracted it and potential cures (of which the Centers for Disease Control says there currently are none).

Apple, Google and Amazon’s efforts are likely to significantly cut down on the number of coronavirus-related apps available for iPhones, iPads and Google Android-powered devices, as many people typically download apps only through the pre-installed app store on their devices.

Microsoft, which also runs an app store for its Windows computers, didn’t have immediate comment about whether it’ll make similar moves.

Apple noted it doesn’t usually charge nonprofits, government entities and accredited educational institutions for access to its developer tools if they plan to distribute their apps for free. Otherwise, a membership to its developer program, which is needed to distribute apps on the App Store, costs at least $99 a year.

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OnePlus to announce OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro, April 14 – CNET

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The OnePlus 7 Pro from 2019.


Angela Lang/CNET

Chinese phone maker OnePlus will announce its latest flagship phones for the year, known as the OnePlus 8 and the 8 Pro, on April 14. Known for selling premium Android phones at hundreds of dollars less than its competitors like Samsung and Google, OnePlus will unveil the devices through a digital event.

As follow-ups to the OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro, the phones are confirmed to have 5G connectivity and 120Hz displays, a step up from 2019’s 90Hz screens. Because of these features, the phones are likely to be pricier than last year’s, something OnePlus CEO Pete Lau anticipated.

“We’ve always had a position in creating the best product possible at the best price point,” said Lau in a interview earlier this month. “The new technology does add costs so costs have risen in comparison to 4G products.”

Other rumors include a hole-punch screen for the front-facing camera, a Snapdragon 865 processor and a new teal color. A possible budget-minded variant called the OnePlus 8 Lite has been floated as well.

For more information, check back with CNET on April 14 as we will be covering the announcement and let us know if you’re planning to get a OnePlus 8 or 8 Pro.

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OnePlus confirms an April 2020 launch for the 8 series – Notebookcheck.net

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Deirdre O Donnell, 2020-03-30 (Update: 2020-03-30)

I became a professional writer and editor shortly after graduation. My degrees are in biomedical sciences; however, they led to some experience in the biotech area, which convinced me of its potential to revolutionize our health, environment and lives in general.
This developed into an all-consuming interest in more aspects of tech over time: I can never write enough on the latest electronics, gadgets and innovations. My other interests include imaging, astronomy, and streaming all the things. Oh, and coffee.

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Microsoft says Skype users surge amid coronavirus outbreak – Financial Post

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Microsoft Corp said on Monday its video calling platform Skype saw a 70% jump in usage in March from a month earlier, as more people shift to working from home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The platform is being used by 40 million people, the company said in a blog post, adding that Skype-to-Skype calling minutes jumped 220% from a month earlier.

(Reporting by Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)

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