It may have gotten off to a slow start, but digital Covid-19 contact tracing apps are finally picking up steam in the United States — and may have surmounted one of their biggest obstacles to widespread use.
States are now able to create contact tracing apps that work with those from other states, thanks to a national server that works with the exposure notification tool developed by Apple and Google and stores information about potential exposures from all states that use it. This gives us the potential for a nationwide digital contact tracing system. Some states are already incorporating this technology into their regional efforts: the latest are New York and New Jersey, which unveiled new apps on Thursday.
While the national server has been around for a few months, the fact that a growing number of states are using it is a big deal. Because America’s federal government refuses to create a national contact tracing app, each state has so far needed to create its own, leading to a patchwork of apps across the country that used different technologies and couldn’t communicate with each other. Any given state app became effectively useless as soon as the device it was on crossed a state line.
This is no longer the case. Some states — New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware — have teamed up to form a regional alliance of apps with a common codebase. That means if you had the New York version of the app and traveled to New Jersey for a large, crowded superspreader event where you were exposed to the coronavirus, you’d still get a notification (assuming the infected person used one of those states’ apps and reported their positive results to the proper health authorities).
The public health authorities behind these new digital contact tracing apps are using the Apple-Google exposure notification tool, which uses Bluetooth to exchange anonymous “keys” with any devices that come within a certain proximity (and have opted into the tool). If someone tests positive for the coronavirus, their keys are uploaded to a server. Individual devices check the server every day, and if any keys on the server match keys received by the device, it will alert its owner that they may have been exposed to the virus.
Apple and Google worked together to make the tool interoperable with iOS and Android operating systems, and iOS 14 has the exposure notification tool baked into the system itself and notifies users about the feature, creating a relatively seamless process to enable it. While a contact tracing app doesn’t have to use the Apple-Google tool — in fact, some states and countries have elected to go their own way here — those apps have had technical and privacy issues, and can’t work with each other.
The Association of Public Health Laboratories launched the new national key server in July specifically for the Apple-Google tool, which means any state apps that use the tool and this national server will basically work together. If someone with Wyoming’s app tests positive, their keys are uploaded to a server and can be accessed by devices using apps from Delaware, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and parts of California that are participating in a pilot program.
Several other states, including Alabama, Nevada, Virginia, and the territory of Guam, are also using the Apple-Google exposure notification tool in their contact tracing apps, but they are not using the national key server. A few more — Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Oregon, Washingtons state, and Washington, DC — have announced plans to come out with their own apps powered by the Apple-Google tool.
New Jersey and New York are the newest states to roll out their apps. Along with Pennsylvania and Delaware, they’re touting a sort of regional effort at contact tracing. They’re using the national server, and the four apps are all very similar, from their name (“COVID Alert [state]”) to their source code: The apps were built using an open source codebase called COVID Green, which was initially developed for Ireland’s app. That gives all four apps a uniform look and function, and it means the process of building them was relatively fast compared to the time it would have taken for each state to build their own app from scratch.
The states were also assisted by the Linux Foundation Public Health (LFPH) initiative, which works with public health authorities to use open source software to fight the coronavirus.
“We’re really focused on making sure to build out an ecosystem around exposure notification, and making sure that there’s open source options in order to get these apps out more quickly,” Jenny Wanger of LFPH told Recode. “And to make sure that they’re secure and trustworthy, as well as building a community for everybody who’s actually implementing these apps.”
One testament to how the attitude toward digital contact tracing and the Apple-Google exposure notification tool in particular has changed: In May, Pennsylvania told Recode it was using a different digital contact tracing tool to assist human contact tracing efforts, while New York told Recode it was focusing on building its manual contact tracing program.
Apple and Google also recently announced an “exposure notification express” option that allows states to enable exposure notifications without having to build a standalone app. Several states that are part of the so-called Western States Pact — Washington, Oregon, and California — are currently piloting projects based on the exposure notifications express technology.
The new apps and region-wide efforts come at a time when there’s an increased awareness of and interest in contact tracing, and when infection rates are relatively low but could be on the verge of a fall spike — meaning contact tracing could come in handy very soon. As always, the effectiveness of the apps depends on how many people use them. With states working together, new technology allowing apps to work across state lines, and the device operating system updates in place that facilitate their use, we’re as close as we’ve ever been to having a nationwide digital contact tracing effort.
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iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11: which should you buy? – What Hi-Fi?
The initial similarities belie the fact that the iPhone 12 actually represents one of the most dramatic iPhone updates in years, particularly in one of the most important areas to us AV aficionados – the screen.
So what’s new? What makes it worth upgrading from the iPhone 11? And how do you do so? Here we’ll answer all your questions and more…
iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11: price
First things first: price. As you would expect for a newer, more advanced phone, the iPhone 12 is more expensive than the iPhone 11. It currently starts at £799 ($799/AU$1349), while the iPhone 11 costs £599 ($599/AU$999).
There are different prices for the different models of iPhone 12. The iPhone 12 mini is the cheapest option, starting at £699 ($699, AU$1199), while the iPhone 12 Pro is more expensive, with a starting price of £999 ($999, AU$1699). The iPhone 12 Pro Max is the priciest member of the iPhone 12 family, starting at £1099 ($1099, AU$1849).
**Winner** iPhone 11
iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11: design
Both handsets look very similar from the front, but the iPhone 12‘s design is actually quite different to that of the iPhone 11, at least by Apple standards. The rounded edges have been replaced by smooth, flat aluminium, and it’s more compact, too: 11% thinner, 15% smaller in terms of volume, and 16% lighter.
It comes in five colours: black, white, red, green and blue. The iPhone 11 comes in six (purple, yellow, green, black, white and red), so there’s not much to choose between them on this front. But for the design tweaks, we prefer the 12.
**Winner** iPhone 12
iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11: screen
The iPhone 12’s chassis is more compact but, thanks to thinner borders, the screen is the same size – 6.1in.
Spec-wise, it’s actually a big step-up from the iPhone 11’s display. For starters, it’s a Super Retina XDR OLED rather than a Liquid Retina HD LCD. Pixel density jumps from 326ppi to 460ppi, contrast ratio from 1400:1 to 2,000,000:1, and support for HDR (in the Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG formats) has been added. This is all massive news for those of us who use our phones primarily as portable TV show and movie machines.
Keeping that screen safe is something Apple refers to as a ‘Ceramic Shield’, which is apparently tougher than any smartphone glass. The company says it’s four times more likely than the iPhone 11’s screen to survive a fall without cracking. Let’s hope you never have to test that.
**Winner** iPhone 12
iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11: network speed
The iPhone 12 range sees Apple supporting 5G for the first time, which means that those with the appropriate contract and coverage will get a much faster data connection than with any previous iPhone. In perfect conditions, the iPhone 12 with 5G is capable of producing download speeds of up to 4Gbps, which is astonishingly quick.
Of course, real-life download speeds will be much lower. Verizon in the US is talking up 200Mbps as the ceiling and, in the UK, average 5G download speeds are currently under 40Mbps. That’s still much faster than 4G, though, so this is a useful feature to have and it will only become more so as the currently patchy coverage expands.
**Winner** iPhone 12
iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11: power
The A13 Bionic chip in the iPhone 11 still hasn’t been outperformed by the processor of any Android phone, but Apple has still seen fit to replace it with a more powerful chip for iPhone 12.
The A14 Bionic is the first smartphone chip built on 5nm process technology. Very simply put, the transistors on the chip are even infinitesimally smaller than before, which means a whole load more of them can be packed in, increasing performance and improving energy efficiency. There are, in fact, 11.8 billion transistors in the A14 Bionic – that’s nearly 40 per cent more than in the A13 Bionic.
Apple claims the A14 Bionic’s CPU (central processing unit) and GPU (graphics processing unit) are each 50 per cent faster than the equivalents of any other smartphone. The long and the short of it is that the iPhone 12 should be miles faster than the iPhone 11. You might not notice that in day-to-day use, but as more advanced apps and games appear, it could become a factor.
**Winner** iPhone 12
iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11: camera
The iPhone 12’s dual-camera array features the same Ultra Wide lens as the iPhone 11, but its Wide lens has been upgraded with a f/1.6 aperture, whereas the iPhone 11’s has an f/1.8 aperture. To the point-and-shooters out there, that might sound like a downgrade, but the smaller number actually means that the aperture is bigger and therefore able to draw in more light. The upshot should be better low-light photography.
On the subject of low-light photography, Apple’s Night Mode, which is specifically designed to maximise the amount of light in nighttime shots, can now be used in conjunction with all of the iPhone’s cameras, including the one on the front. Great for selfies after dark, if that’s your sort of thing.
On top of that, the iPhone 12 uses machine learning to analyse and enhance your shots, bringing out details that would usually be lost in shadows, for example. Better all round, in other words.
**Winner** iPhone 12
iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11: battery
There’s not much to choose between them in this category. The iPhone 12 squeezes out an extra hour of video playback over streaming, but that’s about it. Though there is one rather neat new addition in the form of MagSafe.
This is the same magnetic tech originally seen in Apple’s laptops. Then, it disconnected the power cable when pulled – if someone tripped over the charging cable, it would be yanked out, rather than dragging the laptop onto the floor and potentially causing it damage. But on the iPhone 12, it opens the door to all sorts of new chargers and accessories.
Wireless chargers just ‘snap’ into place, so you don’t have to worry about positioning them correctly. Just place it down and off you go. It also means you can charge all your Apple devices on one wireless charger – like Belkin’s, or Apple’s (pictured) – and you’ll soon be able to ‘snap’ on all kinds of accessories to your handset, such as cases, new camera lenses, and more. The sky’s the limit.
Everything you need to know: New iPhone 12 (2020): release date, price and news
Apple has a new speaker too: Apple HomePod Mini: everything you need to know
And some new headphones in the pipeline: Apple AirPods Studio headphones: everything you need to know
Huawei Mate 40 Pro tops DxOMark charts for both front and rear cameras – GSMArena.com news – GSMArena.com
Huawei unveiled the Mate 40, Mate 40 Pro, Mate 40 Pro+, and Porsche Design Mate 40 RS today, but it seems like every media outlet was only sent the Mate 40 Pro, just like what initially happened with the P40 family. So we have our Mate 40 Pro review out already, but so does DxOMark, and the new device has entered its charts at No.1 both for its rear camera system as well as its selfie prowess.
If you’re interested in the nitty gritty of DxOMark’s testing, make sure you visit both Sources linked below. We’ll give you a quick rundown of their findings, starting with the rear camera setup.
Let’s start by saying that the Mate 40 Pro’s photo subscore of 140 is a new high as well. DxOMark was particularly impressed with the handset’s dynamic range, which is very wide across all light levels, even in very challengingly lit situations. Obviously, this means the it’s a great option for shooting in low-light.
Main cam sample from DxOMark
The camera also offers a good tradeoff between texture and noise, with good detail and low noise across all ambient light levels. Autofocus on the main cam is accurate and delay-free, while the portrait mode creates natural-looking bokeh that’s pretty similar looking to what you can get from a DSLR and fast lens. Color rendering is excellent too.
Tele sample from DxOMark
Autofocus on the tele lens is a bit hit-and-miss, and the phone would’ve benefitted from having a second zoom lens with a shorter range, like the Mate 40 Pro+ and the Mi 10 Ultra. The ultrawide camera is very good in terms of quality, but it’s also one of the narrowest ultrawides out there.
Ultrawide sample from DxOMark
The Mate 40 Pro also takes the top spot with its video subscore of 116, with good detail and low noise levels in all situations. Colors are nice, auto white balance works well, autofocus is accurate and adapts smoothly when the subject distance changes, and video stabilization is very good, creating a cinematic effect, which is particularly noticeable when panning or running while recording. It only struggles while walking when recording in low light, which is also when you may see sharpness differences between frames.
Flipping the phone over reveals a selfie snapper which delivers good face exposures including in low light levels, and it also has a wide dynamic range. This is very useful in backlit situations, and other high contrast scenes. Colors are nice, while white balance is good in low light but can be slightly inaccurate in other conditions.
Selfie sample from DxOMark
Despite its fixed focus, the camera scores highly for focusing, and it has a wide depth of field, although there’s an understandable reduction in detail in low light. Noise is good in all conditions. When it gets very dark you can use the display flash, which produces good exposures but is prone to vignetting.
Portrait selfie sample from DxOMark
Portrait mode creates nice looking bokeh but despite the ToF depth sensor, estimation errors are frequent on the edges of the subject. Selfie videos have good exposure in most conditions and nice colors with accurate white balance. There’s some loss of detail in low light, while noise is visible in indoor and low-light clips.
Fraudsters increase in region – Quinte News
Since April of 2020, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in Eastern Ontario have received an increased number of complaints from local businesses who have fallen victim to fraudsters purchasing items over the phone or online.
Typically, the fraudsters contact a business to place an order for a product by way of phone, email or website, with plans to make the payment using a stolen payment card and counterfeit driver’s licence.
The business, believing it to be a legitimate purchase, requests a driver’s licence, then processes the payment on stolen payment card(s).
The business provides the product(s) through a shipping company or to an individual picking up the product using a rented van or trailer (also rented with a stolen payment card).
Eventually the real cardholder identifies and disputes the unauthorized charge. As a result, the business receives a charge back and is responsible for paying back the amount charged on the stolen card.
Businesses who accept Card-Not-Present (CNP) orders can better avoid fraud by using the Ministry of Transportation’s (MTO) online Driver’s Licence Check verification tool.
How can businesses protect themselves:
In the fall of 2019, the MTO eliminated the $2 legislated fee per licence check and rolled out an enhanced version of the Driver’s Licence Check. This free online service is easy to use and convenient:
- The Driver’s Licence Check is a free online service for the public and businesses to find out if an Ontario driver’s licence is valid;
- In order to use the service, the public and businesses can visit the Driver’s Licence Check service website (https://www.dlc.rus.mto.gov.on.ca/dlc/);
- Please note that the only information relayed through the service is whether the driver’s licence number entered is valid or invalid along with specific condition codes, if applicable. However, no personal information is displayed.
- The Driver’s Licence Check has the ability to check up to 100 driver’s licence numbers at once (previously restricted to 9);
- Businesses can automatically load driver’s licence numbers from a CSV file rather than enter them manually to support multiple licence checks;
- Email and download results;
- Access the mobile-responsive website from a mobile browser for a seamless and consistent online experience; and
- Scan driver’s licence card on a mobile device (i.e., smartphone, Android tablet).
iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11: which should you buy? – What Hi-Fi?
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