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Coronavirus: Apple and France in stand-off over contact-tracing app – BBC News

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France is pressing Apple to let its forthcoming coronavirus contract-tracing app work in the background on iPhones without building in the privacy measures the US company wants.

The country’s digital minister confirmed the request in an interview given to Bloomberg.

France’s system would let it glean more information about participating smartphone owners than Apple and its partner Google want to allow.

Privacy experts view it as a test case.

“Apple has no reason to agree to this demand and it would open the door to many other requests from other countries and entities,” Prof Olivier Blazy from the country’s University of Limoges, told BBC News.

“As a Frenchman, I think it would be useful to avoid being dependent on the Google-Apple solution but I think it’s strange that the government strategy relies on trying to convince Apple to do something that is against its interest, with no incentive to do so.”

Apple and Google announced on 10 April they were working together to provide a software building-block – known as an application programming interface (API) – that will let authorised Covid-19 contact-tracing apps work more efficiently.

Contact-tracing apps work by logging every time two or more users are close to each other for a substantial period of time.

If one device owner is subsequently diagnosed as being likely to have the virus, an alert can be sent to those they could have infected, who might be asked to self-isolate.

By using such an app in conjunction with other measures, it would in theory be possible to end wider lockdowns and still suppress the disease, so long as enough people take part.

Apple and Google’s method relies on using Bluetooth signals to detect matches.

But they have deliberately designed it so neither they nor the apps’ creators can see who has been given a warning.

The companies have said this is to guarantee “strong protections around user privacy”, which in turn should encourage adoption.

By contrast, Inria – the French institute developing its StopCovid app – has developed a system of its own, called Robert (robust and privacy-preserving proximity tracing protocol).

It published details about it on Sunday on the code-sharing site Github.

And although the French government has promised adoption of the app will be voluntary and involve anonymised data, the document reveals there would be ways to “re-identify users or to infer their contact graphs” if desired.

“It’s a misnomer to call it a privacy-preserving protocol,” said University of Oxford computer scientist Prof Max van Kleek, who prefers the Apple-Google design.

“It does preserve privacy between users but not between the user and the government.

“And that leads to the risk that the government later repurposes the system to make sure that people obey a quarantine or other kinds of things the state might want to know.”

The problem for Inria – and other countries developing their own contact-tracing apps – is Apple currently will not allow Bluetooth-based track-and-tracing to be carried out in the background.

So to work, the apps would have to remain active and on screen, limiting what else owners could do with their handsets and taking an extra toll on battery life.

The developers of Singapore’s TraceTogether app attempted to get round this problem by offering a Power Save mode, which dims the display.

But users have still complained of being unable to make calls or use other apps at the same time and having accidentally bumped the app into the background when their handset was in their pocket.

And this has discouraged people from using it.

“We’re asking Apple to lift the technical hurdle to allow us to develop a sovereign European health solution that will be tied to our health system,” France’s Digital Minister, Cedric O, told Bloomberg.

A spokesman for Apple referred BBC News to its earlier comments about privacy.

NHSX – which is testing an app of its own for the UK – faces a similar quandary and remains in discussions with Apple and Google about the matter.

“Apple and Google have a vested interest in protecting the privacy of their end-users,” Prof Van Kleek said.

“That’s not just from governments but also from potentially malicious adversaries.

“If you collect sensitive data, then it becomes more likely that that data will be leaked at some point, so from a cyber-security perspective there’s lots of good reasons not to do so.”

French lawmakers will vote on whether to proceed with the app, after the country’s government backed down from an original plan to let MPs only debate but not decide the measure.

Assuming they support the initiative, Mr O has said he hopes to launch the tool on 11 May.

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iPhone 12 display leaked

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We’re getting an early glimpse at the display on the iPhone 12 thanks to an online leak, and it looks a lot like the screens on the most recent iPhones. That’s bad news if you were hoping that Apple would shrink the notch on its upcoming phones.

The leaked image comes from Mr. White, a Twitter user who has a habit of posting pictures of various iPhone components, like the upcoming A14 Bionic processor. That tweet, showing what appears to be an iPhone 12 panel, has since disappeared from Twitter, but MacRumors captured it before it vanished.

A subsequent tweet by Mr. White shows the panel in sharper detail, and this time the leaker notes that the new panel sports the “same Face ID size.”

If so, that’s going to disappoint people who’ve been clinging to the rumor that Apple would reportedly shrink the distinctive notch on its phones, as it would need less space to house the sensors and cameras that make up the iPhone’s Face ID image recognition system. Just a few days ago leaker Jon Prosser had said the move to a smaller notch was “mostly confirmed.”

It’s no secret that Apple would like to eventually downsize and maybe even do away with the notch on its smartphones. Reports from last year suggested that future Apple smartphones wouldn’t include a notch, though that wasn’t expected to happen until 2021.

It’s safe to say the iPhone’s notch divides opinion. First introduced with the iPhone X in 2017, the notch gives Apple phones a distinctive look that Android device makers have rushed to copy. The notch also supports Face ID, which gives Apple an edge over other devices with its secure face unlocking feature, not to mention fun messaging capabilities featuring animoji.

But the iPhone’s notch means that Apple phones still have a bit of a bezel bulging into the display. You only need to look at the just unveiled Samsung Galaxy Note 20 to see the benefits of uninterrupted display real estate.

As more Android phone makers adopt minimal bezels for their phones, Apple might feel pressured to do the same. Whether or not that begins to happen with the iPhone 12, however, remains very much up in the air.

Source- Tom’s Guide

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Smartphone chips running out under US sanctions, Huawei says – The Globe and Mail

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In this Oct. 31, 2019 photo, man uses his smartphone as he stands near a billboard for Chinese technology firm Huawei at the PT Expo in Beijing.

Mark Schiefelbein/The Associated Press

Chinese tech giant Huawei is running out of processor chips to make smartphones due to U.S. sanctions and will be forced to stop production of its own most advanced chips, a company executive says, in a sign of growing damage to Huawei’s business from American pressure.

Huawei Technologies Ltd., one of the biggest producers of smartphones and network equipment, is at the centre of U.S.-Chinese tension over technology and security. The feud has spread to include the popular Chinese-owned video app TikTok and China-based messaging service WeChat.

Washington cut off Huawei’s access to U.S. components and technology including Google’s music and other smartphone services last year. Those penalties were tightened in May when the White House barred vendors worldwide from using U.S. technology to produce components for Huawei.

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Production of Kirin chips designed by Huawei’s own engineers will stop Sept. 15 because they are made by contractors that need U.S. manufacturing technology, said Richard Yu, president of the company’s consumer unit. He said Huawei lacks the ability to make its own chips.

“This is a very big loss for us,” Yu said Friday at an industry conference, China Info 100, according to a video recording of his comments posted on multiple websites.

“Unfortunately, in the second round of U.S. sanctions, our chip producers only accepted orders until May 15. Production will close on Sept. 15,” Yu said. “This year may be the last generation of Huawei Kirin high-end chips.”

More broadly, Huawei’s smartphone production has “no chips and no supply,” Yu said.

Yu said this year’s smartphone sales probably will be lower than 2019’s level of 240 million handsets but gave no details. The company didn’t immediately respond to questions Saturday.

Huawei, founded in 1987 by a former military engineer, denies accusations it might facilitate Chinese spying. Chinese officials accuse Washington of using national security as an excuse to stop a competitor to U.S. tech industries.

Huawei is a leader among emerging Chinese competitors in telecoms, electric cars, renewable energy and other fields in which the ruling Communist Party hopes China can become a global leader.

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Huawei has 180,000 employees and one of the world’s biggest research and development budgets at more than $15 billion a year. But, like most global tech brands, it relies on contractors to manufacture its products.

Earlier, Huawei announced its global sales rose 13.1% over a year ago to 454 billion yuan ($65 billion) in the first half of 2020. Yu said that was due to strong sales of high-end products but gave no details.

Huawei became the world’s top-selling smartphone brand in the three months ending in June, passing rival Samsung for the first time due to strong demand in China, according to Canalys. Sales abroad fell 27% from a year earlier.

Washington also is lobbying European and other allies to exclude Huawei from planned next-generation networks as a security risk.

In other U.S.-Chinese clashes, TikTok’s owner, ByteDance Ltd., is under White House pressure to sell the video app. That is due to fears its access to personal information about millions of American users might be a security risk.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump announced a ban on unspecified transactions with TikTok and the Chinese owner of WeChat, a popular messaging service.

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Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G unboxing – PhoneArena

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Boom, there she goes – the humongous Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G jumps out from the box and is ready for action, but before we get to the fun stuff, let’s stop and smell the roses, so to speak. Time for a Note 20 Ultra unboxing video!

This time, we don’t seem to get anything too fancy, but what we do get is pretty sweet:

  • Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
  • USB-C to USB-C cable
  • Powerful 25W fast charger
  • AKG-powered wired earphones with additional rubber eartips
  • SIM ejector tool
Do note that this is a review sample, so the contents might differ slightly from some retail packages, but hey – let’s just be happy that we’re still getting actual earphones and charger in the box! Don’t forget to check out our detailed Galaxy Note 20 Ultra hands-on for more info.

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