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Few provinces still resisting COVID Alert app as new features under consideration – Yahoo News Canada

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Few provinces still resisting COVID Alert app as new features under consideration

Quebec has joined the COVID Alert app, leaving B.C. and Alberta as the only remaining provinces with no immediate plans to activate the digital tool. Both Nova Scotia and P.E.I. have committed to joining in the coming days.

The federal government-administered smartphone app allows users to report a positive coronavirus test and alert others of a potential exposure.

Health Canada says more features could be on the way, but the federal agency says its priority remains to have all provinces and territories join the app “as is.”

“The app will only really help us if many people choose to activate it,” Quebec Premier François Legault told reporters in Montreal on Monday evening shortly after downloading it himself.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="WATCH | Quebec’s premier&nbsp;says COVID Alert is safe to use:&nbsp;” data-reactid=”36″>WATCH | Quebec’s premier says COVID Alert is safe to use: 

Quebec had initially balked at the app. But as the province confronts a steep increase in coronavirus infections — reporting more than 1,000 new cases daily since last Friday — Legault’s government had a change of heart.

“If you want to make a difference and return to a more normal life, please reduce your contacts and activate the COVID app,” he said.

According to data provided by Health Canada, COVID Alert has been downloaded more than 3.4 million times since it was launched July 31. At least 856 users across the country have reported a positive test through the tool.

Most of the reporting has so far come from Ontario, which was the first province to activate the app. Federal officials have said the more users install it, the more effective it will be.

The app is designed to bolster contact tracing — the practice of reaching individuals who’ve potentially been exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19 — at a time when case counts in several provinces are rising.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Toronto Public Health even called off most of its contact tracing efforts, apparently unable to handle the demand due to a steady increase in the city’s infection rate.” data-reactid=”42″>Toronto Public Health even called off most of its contact tracing efforts, apparently unable to handle the demand due to a steady increase in the city’s infection rate.

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Based on the exposure notification framework developed jointly by tech giants Apple and Google, the app allows mobile devices to communicate with each other using Bluetooth technology, with smartphones carrying out a digital handshake when they’re less than two metres apart for at least 15 minutes. 

The information isn’t shared with the government. Nor are the users’ identities, locations or health data.

When someone tests positive, public health provides them with a one-time code to enter into the app, which then relays an exposure notification to others with whom they’ve been in close contact for an extended period.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="More features needed?” data-reactid=”66″>More features needed?

More than two months after COVID Alert’s launch, however, there are calls for the federal government to authorize more features and increase the app’s potential effectiveness.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Dr. Andrew Morris, an infectious disease physician and professor at the University of Toronto's faculty of medicine, urged the app’s developers to consider adding anonymized functions that would allow users —&nbsp;or even public health officials —&nbsp;to be told how frequently people are spending extended periods in close contact with others. The prolonged exposure is considered a driver of coronavirus transmission.” data-reactid=”68″>Dr. Andrew Morris, an infectious disease physician and professor at the University of Toronto’s faculty of medicine, urged the app’s developers to consider adding anonymized functions that would allow users — or even public health officials — to be told how frequently people are spending extended periods in close contact with others. The prolonged exposure is considered a driver of coronavirus transmission.

Fitness apps and automatic screen time logging provide examples of the way a COVID app could share data with users about their behaviour and help shape their actions, Morris said. For example, the app could inform users of the total number of people they’ve been in close contact with for extended periods.

“People do modify their behaviour based on that information,” he said.

B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, recently said the province is working with federal officials “to make some adjustments that will meet our needs” before adopting the app.

Health Canada hinted last week at two potential additions to come, while stressing its priority remains for all provinces and territories to join and allow residents to report a positive test through COVID Alert.

“It would be premature to provide a list of what’s being considered, but there’s definitely lots of discussions currently on wearable devices or QR codes or push notifications,” Marika Nadeau, the director of Health Canada’s COVID Alert task force, said on a call with reporters.

In Singapore — one of the first countries to widely adopt a contact tracing app — officials distributed Bluetooth-enabled wearable “tokens” to users without smartphones. 

Edgar Su/ReutersEdgar Su/Reuters

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Edgar Su/Reuters

Canada’s app is only available on Apple and Android devices made in the past five years. Health Canada estimates that accounts for 92 per cent of smartphone users across the country. But it still leaves the technology out of reach for marginalized groups who are more vulnerable to the virus.

In England and Wales, the U.K.’s National Health Service provides businesses with scannable QR codes that can be read using a COVID app. Users who’ve frequented the premises can later be notified in the event of an outbreak.

Adding features to Canada’s app, however, would likely come with a tradeoff: the obligation for users to provide it with more information. Already, some Canadians have been skittish about installing a government-administered app, harbouring the unfounded fear that it will allow them to be tracked.

“You have to be careful,” said Brian Jackson, who’s been analyzing similar apps for the Toronto-based Info-Tech Research Group, an information technology research and advisory firm.

“The more features you add, the more there is to understand and the more ins and outs there are to the technology layers involved … and to what data is sent back and forth.”

Jackson said the move will work as long as the federal government is able to roll out new features while maintaining a “privacy first” approach.

Alberta still uses its own provincial app, ABTraceTogether, which was launched in the spring and is based on older technology. The province said this week ABTraceTogether still has 244,895 users.

“Alberta needs to transition from their current provincial application to COVID Alert,” Nadeau said Tuesday, “so we are continuing our conversation, as well as (with) B.C.” She declined to provide a timeline for when the two provinces might join.

Sven Hoppe/The Associated PressSven Hoppe/The Associated Press

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Sven Hoppe/The Associated Press

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="App is working, evidence suggests” data-reactid=”127″>App is working, evidence suggests

COVID Alert’s built-in privacy features make it impossible to know how many users have received an exposure notification through the app, but anecdotes continue to illustrate its potential.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="On Sunday, a curling tournament in Waterloo, Ont., was halted after a participant received news through the app that they had been near a person with COVID-19.” data-reactid=”129″>On Sunday, a curling tournament in Waterloo, Ont., was halted after a participant received news through the app that they had been near a person with COVID-19.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Rocco Rossi, president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce&nbsp;and a former federal Liberal Party official, tweeted last week he’d received an exposure notification and then tested negative. He later said in an interview he suspects the potential exposure may have occurred during a recent trip on Toronto’s subway.” data-reactid=”130″>Rocco Rossi, president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and a former federal Liberal Party official, tweeted last week he’d received an exposure notification and then tested negative. He later said in an interview he suspects the potential exposure may have occurred during a recent trip on Toronto’s subway.

“I didn’t have to have physical contact tracers using up resources to try to find me,” he said, referring to the speed at which the app alerted him.

There is also evidence that other users have been testing positive after first being notified through the app, though it’s impossible to tell how many infections have been prevented by its use.

Ottawa Public Health said last month it had recorded its first COVID-19 diagnosis prompted by an exposure notification. 

Lucie Vignola, a member of Health Canada’s COVID Task Force, told CBC Radio on Monday they’ve been told of users who’ve received an alert, tested positive for the virus, “then modified their behaviour to make sure that they weren’t transmitting it within the community, including a teacher.”

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MagSafe 15W fast charging restricted to Apple 20W adapter – AppleInsider

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New testing shows Apple’s MagSafe charging puck does peak at 15W with iPhone 12, but only when paired with the company’s 20W adapter.

The apparent restriction was discovered by Aaron Zollo of YouTube channel Zollotech. In a comprehensive evaluation of Apple’s MagSafe device posted on Monday, Zollo found two Apple adapters — a new standalone 20W USB-C device and the 18W unit that came with iPhone 11 Pro handsets — achieved high rates of charge.

Measuring energy throughput with an inline digital meter revealed MagSafe hits the advertised 15W peak charging rate (up to 16W in the video) when paired with Apple’s branded 20W adapter. Speeds drop to about 13W with the 18W adapter, and Zollo notes the system takes some time to ramp up to that level.

Older adapters and third-party models with high output ratings do not fare well in the test. Apple’s own 96W MacBook Pro USB-C adapter eked out 10W with MagSafe, matching a high seen by Anker’s PowerPort Atom PD1. Likewise, charging rates hovered between 6W and 9W when attached to Aukey’s 65W adapter, Google’s Pixel adapter and Samsung’s Note 20 Ultra adapter.

It appears third-party devices will need to adopt a MagSafe-compatible power delivery (PD) profile to ensure fast, stable energy delivery when connected to iPhone 12 series devices.

As can be expected with any charging solution, temperature plays a significant role in potential throughput. Zollo found MagSafe significantly throttles speeds as temperatures rise, meaning actual rates are not a constant 15W even when using the 20W adapter. When heat rises, energy output decreases to protect sensitive hardware components and the battery itself. In some cases, this could prompt users to remove their iPhone from its case — including Apple-branded MagSafe models — to achieve maximum thermal efficiency.

Zollo also confirms older Qi-compatible iPhone models, like iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 11 Pro Max, charge at about 5W with MagSafe. Apple previously said Qi devices would charge at 7.5W.

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Hollywood North: B.C. film production recovers to top pre-pandemic levels – Vancouver Sun

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Visual effects and animation divisions also moved to remote work setups early on and were able to continue working through the shutdown, keeping the lights on B.C.’s film sector.

While B.C.’s film industry was never subject to an official order to close by health officials, studio heads, local health authorities and unions were in communication throughout the shutdown to ensure a return to filming could be done safely.

“As a collaborative, agile and adaptable business sector, we are in the fortunate position to help restore the productivity and optimism that characterizes our region, as we navigate recovery from an extraordinary global crisis together,” said Peter Leitch, chairperson of the Motion Picture Production Industry Association of B.C. and president of North Shore Studios.

Prior to 2020’s unpredictable storyline, research conducted by the Vancouver Economic Commission also notes that B.C.’s film industry had set a new record last year, with more than $4.1 billion spent in the province (all figures in Canadian dollars).

Of that total, $3.1 billion was on physical production alone, with the remaining $1 billion on post-production and animation, much of which also takes place in Vancouver.

The $4.1 billion figure nearly triples 2012’s $1.6 billion. In the period between 2012 and 2019, film activity has translated into $22.7 billion for the provincial economy in the areas of hospitality, tourism, material suppliers, transportation and construction, including $12.5 billion alone in wages for British Columbians. It’s estimated that the film industry supports more than 70,000 jobs across B.C.

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MagSafe Charger Only Charges at Full 15W Speeds With Apple's 20W Power Adapter – MacRumors

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Alongside the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro models, Apple introduced a new MagSafe charger that attaches to the magnetic ring in the back of the devices, providing up to 15W of charging power, which is double the speed of the 7.5W Qi-based wireless charging maximum.

Apple does not provide a power adapter with the $39 MagSafe charger, requiring users to supply their own USB-C compatible option. Apple does sell a new 20W power adapter alongside the MagSafe Charger, and as it turns out, that seems to be one of the the only charging options able to provide a full 15W of power to the new MagSafe charger at this time.

YouTuber Aaron Zollo of Zollotech tested several first and third-party power adapter options with the iPhone 12 Pro and a MagSafe charger using a meter to measure actual power output. Paired with the 20W power adapter that Apple offers, the MagSafe Charger successfully hit 15W, but no other chargers that he tested provided the same speeds.

The older 18W power adapter from Apple that was replaced by the 20W version was able to charge the ‌iPhone 12 Pro‌ using the MagSafe Charger at up to 13W, but the 96W Power Adapter and third-party power adapters that provide more than 20W were not able to exceed 10W when used with the MagSafe Charger. Below are the results from Zollo’s tests:

  • Apple’s 20W Power Adapter – 15W
  • Apple’s 18W Power Adapter – 13W
  • Apple’s 96W MacBook Pro Power Adapter – 10W
  • Anker 30W PowerPort Atom PD 1 = 7.5W to 10W
  • Aukey 65W Power Adapter – 8W to 9W
  • Pixel 4/5 Charger – 7.5W to 9W
  • Note 20 Ultra Charger – 6W to 7W

For maximum charging speeds with the MagSafe Charger and an ‌iPhone 12‌ or 12 Pro, Apple’s 20W power adapter is required, and older power adapter options won’t work as well. Third-party companies will need to come out with new chargers that use the particular power profile that Apple is using to provide the optimum amount of power before a third-party charger will be able to provide the full 15W with the MagSafe Charger.

Zollo’s testing also revealed that Apple is using aggressive temperature control, so when the iPhone gets warm, the charging power tends to stay below 10W. The best speeds come from charging using the 20W power adapter without a case on the ‌iPhone‌ to better let heat dissipate.

Older iPhones, such as the 11 Pro Max and 8 Plus, charged at around 5W with the MagSafe Charger and Apple’s 20W power adapter, which is in line with the testing results we saw last week. It’s not worth buying a MagSafe Charger to use with a non ‌iPhone 12‌.

The same goes for Android phones. The MagSafe Charger technically supports Qi-based charging and can work with Android devices, but when paired with an Android smartphone, the MagSafe charger was outputting at 1.5W, which is slow enough that it’s nearly useless.

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