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Apple, Google’s Exposure Notification system can now auto-generate apps



Apple and Google announced the second phase of its Exposure Notification API system, which includes offering built-in exposure notification apps.

Back in April, when the two companies first announced plans to launch the exposure notification system, it was clear that the feature would arrive in two parts. The first phase was the backbone of the system, which focused on bringing an interoperable, cross-platform tool to both Android and iOS that public health agencies could leverage to power their apps. Canada’s COVID Alert app uses that system.

In short, the system uses Bluetooth on Android and iOS phones to trade unique, anonymous codes between nearby users. These codes act as a record of potential exposures to nearby people. If someone tests positive, they receive an authentication code with their test results. They can then use the code to verify their result in the app and upload their phone’s list of codes. Other phones check the list for matches, which indicate a potential exposure to someone with COVID-19. The app warns users of exposure and recommends next steps, such as getting a test or quarantining.

Public health authorities can tailor the system to their needs

The second phase will act as an extension of the Exposure Notification system that allows public health authorities to avoid building an app. Instead, they can configure the basic Exposure Notification framework to meet the needs of their country, province or state. Health departments can create a ‘configuration file’ with details like risk scores, redirects for their specific public health website and modifications to the recommendations sent to potentially exposed users.

iOS and Android use these configuration files to generate necessary software automatically. However, it’s worth noting that each operating system handles software generation differently. iOS incorporates the configuration settings into the OS-level Exposure Notification software available from the Settings app. Android, on the other hand, generates a custom Android app based on the configuration file.

The two companies shared a statement with The Verge detailing the goals of the second phase of Exposure Notifications:

“As the next step in our work with public health authorities on Exposure Notifications, we are making it easier and faster for them to use the Exposure Notifications System without the need for them to build and maintain an app. Exposure Notifications Express provides another option for public health authorities to supplement their existing contact tracing operations with technology without compromising on the project’s core tenets of user privacy and security.”

The change likely won’t impact Canada, which already has a COVID Alert app

Ultimately, this system should allow public health agencies to quickly deploy an Exposure Notification system based on Apple and Google’s work without building an app — something that can be difficult or costly for some agencies. The two companies stress that doing this doesn’t impact apps built on the Exposure Notification system, nor does it impact a public health authority’s ability to make an app later on. It’s not clear what, if any, impact the new phase will have in Canada since the federal government already has COVID Alert.

The federal government hopes to make COVID Alert available nationally, but currently, only Ontario public health agencies support the app, although it can be downloaded in every province. Alberta plans to support COVID Alert and transition users from its own ABTraceTogether app. Quebec has said it won’t deploy COVID Alert for now.

It is worth noting that using the built-in Exposure Notification system offered by Google and Apple means users give more data to those companies. The Verge points out that the iOS Exposure Notification app collects general device analytics and crash information if users opt-in. The Android app collects de-identified system info, which includes API error calls. However, Google told The Verge it doesn’t collect data that could identify which specific users were exposed to COVID-19. Those using the COVID Alert app aren’t subject to that data collection from Apple or Google.

Google also committed to publishing the source code of the auto-generated Android app for third-party audits.

The iOS version of the Exposure Notifications Express system will roll out in iOS 13.7, due out on September 1st. Android will deploy the system later this month via a Google Play Services update delivered to all users running Android 6.0 and up.

Source: The Verge

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Galaxy S20 FE vs. other S20 phones: How is the new Fan Edition so much cheaper? – CNET




Samsung has officially added a new member to its premium Galaxy S20 family in the form of the Galaxy S20 Fan Edition. The device, unveiled Wednesday, costs $700 (£599, AU$999), handily stealing the crown from the $1,000 Galaxy S20 and making it the most affordable phone in Samsung’s premium S20 line. That raises an obvious question: What compromises were made to drive down the cost, and therefore the starting price, of the S20 FE? 

On paper at least, there don’t seem to be many core differences between the phones. The 6.5-inch S20 FE retains many of the top-shelf features found in its flashier siblings. Along with a sharp AMOLED display coupled with ultra-fast refresh rates, it has a large battery, an IP68 rating (for water and dust resistance) and multiple cameras on its rear, including a telephoto lens. 


Samsung’s Galaxy S20 FE line comes in six colors.


Where Samsung does make compromises is in its choice of material. The S20 FE, unlike its fancier siblings, has a back made of plastic instead of glass. It has less RAM and storage than its family members, and there are some concessions on its rear camera setup, but you might not even miss them. 8K video recording and 100x space zoom are absent, but 30x zoom is available (like what’s featured in the S20 and S20 Plus) and so is 3x optical zoom. 

The S20 FE is available for international preorders starting today, with in-store sales in the US starting Oct. 2 (and it’s already $100 off at Best Buy). Keep in mind that the $700 price is for the low-band 5G variant, while the Verizon model with superfast millimeter-wave 5G starts at $750 (currently discounted to $700). To learn more about the differences and similarities of Samsung’s S20 flagship line, take a look at our specs chart below. 

Galaxy S20 Fan Edition vs. other Galaxy S20 phones

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Samsung Galaxy S20 Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
Display size, resolution 6.5-inch super AMOLED; 2,400×1,080 pixels 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X; (3,200 x 1440) 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X
Pixel density 405ppi 563ppi 525ppi 511ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6.29×2.97×0.33 inches 2.72×5.97×0.311 inches 2.9×6.37×0.30 inches 2.99×6.57×0.35 inches
Dimensions (Millimeters) 159.8×75.5×8.4mm 69.1×151.7×7.9 mm 73.7×161.9×7.8mm 76.0×166.9×8.8mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 6.7 oz; 190g 5.75 oz; 163g 6.56 oz; 186g 7.76 oz; 220g
Mobile software (at launch) Android 10 Android 10 Android 10 Android 10
Camera 12-megapixel (standard), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), 8-megapixel (3x telephoto) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), time-of-flight camera 108-megapixel (wide-angle), 48-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), time-of-flight camera
Front-facing camera 32-megapixel 10-megapixel 10-megapixel 40-megapixel
Video capture 4K 8K 8K 8K
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 (5G) Samsung Exynos 990 (4G) 64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5 GHz + 2.0 GHz) 64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5 GHz + 2.0 GHz) 64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5 GHz + 2.0 GHz)
Storage 128GB 128GB 128GB, 512GB 128GB, 512GB
RAM 6GB 12GB 12GB 12GB, 16GB
Expandable storage 1TB Up to 1TB Up to 1TB Up to 1TB
Battery 4,500 mAh 4,000 mAh 4,500 mAh 5,000 mAh
Fingerprint sensor In-screen In-screen In-screen In-screen
Headphone jack No No No No
Special features 5G enabled, IP 68 rating, 120Hz screen refresh rate, support for 30W fast charging,15W fast wireless charging 5G enabled; 120Hz refresh rate; water resistant (IP68) 5G enabled; 120Hz refresh rate; water resistant (IP68) 5G enabled; 120Hz refresh rate; 100X zoom; water resistant (IP68)
Price off-contract (USD) *at launch $700 for sub-6 5G; $750 for Verizon model with mmWave 5G $999 $1,199, $1,349 $1,399 (128GB), $1,599 (512GB)
Price (GBP) £599 (4G) £699 (5G) £799, £899 (5G) £999 (5G) £1,199 (128GB), £1,399 (512GB)
Price (AUD) AU$999 (4G), AU$1,149 (5G) AU$1349 (4G), AU$1,499 (5G), AU$1,499 (4G), AU$1,649 (128GB), AU$1,899 (512GB) AU$1,999 (128GB), AU$2,249 (512GB)

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Xbox Boss Phil Spencer Teases Future Bethesda Games – GameSpot



Microsoft didn’t spend $7.5 billion on ZeniMax/Bethesda for its current pipeline alone–the company splashed out that giant fee because it believes in Bethesda’s future games. We don’t know exactly what those are, but now Xbox boss Phil Spencer has provided a tease.

In an appearance on Major Nelson’s podcast, Spencer said he knows the “future roadmap” for Bethesda’s game studios, and he believes it is an “incredibly exciting time.”

“I have the benefit of knowing the future roadmap and having some insight into the things that have been both announced and unannounced that the teams are working on,” Spencer said. “It’s an incredibly exciting time for the work that Bethesda’s studios are doing, as they continue with the craft of creating games and also thinking about how our medium of gaming continues to evolve and their role in that.”

Some of the highest-profile games in development at Bethesda’s studios that we know about include Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI. Bethesda has also confirmed it’s working on a third Wolfenstein game. In addition to new games for console and PC, Bethesda has expanded its efforts on mobile, so you can expect additional titles for phones and tablets, too.

Also in the interview, Spencer spoke about why he believes Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda was a “natural” next step in their existing relationship.

“You find teams out there that are always pushing themselves and their own capability, and I fundamentally believe that the more closely we work with teams like that, the better we are as a platform,” Spencer said.

For more on Microsoft’s blockbuster buyout of ZeniMax, check out our stories below.

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Why were the PS5 and Xbox Series X pre-orders so chaotic?



Buying a new, next-generation console is supposed to be an exciting thing. But this generation, pre-orders for the two upcoming consoles, the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X, were more of a time for frustration and disappointment as the preorder periods for both consoles turned into complete fiascos. So what happened?

The PlayStation 5 pre-orders were the first to launch — prematurely, apparently. While pre-orders were supposed to start on September 17, they actually went live on September 16 with almost no warning. Within minutes, both versions of the PS5 were sold out everywhere, and even those who thought they’d managed to snag one would find it vanishing from their carts. For those who’d made the dreadful mistake of eating dinner because they weren’t expecting the pre-orders to go live (such as myself) they completely missed even the opportunity to buy one.

Sony later apologized for the mess, saying it “could have been a lot smoother” (you don’t say) and promising to release more of the consoles for pre-order. Let’s hope that’s true because, according to Press Start’s Shannon Grixti, at least one retailer has already sold their total 2020 stock. One wonders if the company is having to scramble to make more PS5s, as initial reports said it’d limit supplies at launch.

Microsoft officials were quick to chuckle and say that their launch wouldn’t be quite such a mess, but they were apparently a little too quick to say so. The Xbox Series launch was just as bad, if not worse.

At least two retailers — Best Buy and Amazon, of all places — didn’t launch the preorder option on the consoles until well after the start time. Amazon didn’t even have a page for the Xbox Series X ready to go. In fact, while the report is somewhat dubious, it appears enough buyers were confused about the lack of an Xbox Series X option that they accidentally bought the similarly named Xbox One X (see, this is why names like this are foolish, Microsoft). I’m told that GameStop would put players in a preorder queue and would warn them not to refresh the page lest they lose their place, only to keep them stuck in purgatory while the consoles sold out.

Read: Are EVs too expensive? Here are 5 common myths, debunked

And in the case of both consoles, we now have scalpers selling their preorders on eBay for ridiculous markups. If I tell you nothing else in this article, let me tell you this: don’t buy one of those.

What the heck happened here? Why did the launch of these consoles, what should have been one of the most meticulously well-planned events from two of the biggest companies in the world, turn into such a shitshow?

Personally, I put at least some of this down to sloppy planning on the part of both companies. I’m not sure if I believe the rumor that both companies were waiting for the other to announce a release date first, but it is worth noting that the first release date was revealed through a leak. The Xbox Series release dates were leaked ahead of time, forcing Microsoft to finally give an official date of release far, far later than they reasonably should have. Sony followed up with the PS5’s release date shortly afterwards. It would make a depressing amount of sense for the launches to be this haphazard if the companies really did wait until the last minute to set the dates.

There’s also another explanation, which would put this outside the companies’ control: scalpers used bots to buy the console specifically for resale before any human customers managed to get in. This theory was expanded upon by Kotaku’s Luke Plunkett, who described the bots as “software that’s able to crawl a site’s store page and complete multiple sales before actual human fingertips have had time to even move a mouse cursor onto the thing they want.” If that’s the case, let me reiterate — do not buy from scalpers. It’s worth waiting a few weeks or even months after launch to hold onto your money and integrity.

Let’s hope both companies can restock. Until then, lots of us who didn’t manage to snag one of the consoles will just have to wait.



Source: – The Next Web

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