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Virginia launches the first U.S. app using Apple-Google coronavirus notification technology – CNBC

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Germany’s coronavirus contact-tracing app, Corona-Warn, is displayed on an iPhone in Berlin on Tuesday, June 16, 2020.

Krisztian Bocsi | Bloomberg via Getty Images

Virginia’s coronavirus notification app, called Covidwise, launched on Wednesday, just under four months after the AppleGoogle partnership was first announced.

Virginia is the first state in the United States to use the Apple-Google technology built into iPhones and Android phones. The exposure notification technology and contact-tracing apps were once heralded as a critical part of some countries’ strategies to lift their lockdowns, but low adoption and unclear effectiveness in some countries have dampened enthusiasm for the apps

Virginia’s app, like all apps using the Apple-Google framework, uses Bluetooth signals on a smartphone to determine how closely and for how long two phones were nearby, without collecting the location of the contact or the identity of the users. Then, if one of the phone’s users were to test positive for Covid-19, the system is able to notify any other phones with the app that they might have been exposed to the virus through a push notification and tell them to get tested or quarantine. 

“For the purpose of this app, there wasn’t an absolute need to be able to track where you are or who you are,” Jeff Stover, director of the Virginia Department of Health, said on a video call with reporters. “The most important thing was that you know whether or not you’ve potentially been exposed, and that we can all take actions to do whatever prevention is necessary.” 

When users test positive for Covid-19, they get a six-digit pin number provided by the Virginia Department of Health that they can input into their app. That six-digit pin unscrambles a database of encrypted contacts, which allows the system to send push notifications to people who may have been exposed. 

Virginia’s Covidwise app requires a 6-digit PIN number to confirm a positive test result.

Screenshot/CNBC

The app wasn’t built by Apple or Google — the two tech giants built software into iOS and Android to make it possible. Virginia paid SpringML $229,000 to develop the Covidwise app, and it was funded by the CARES act, Stover said.

Other states in the U.S. have released similar apps, but some of them, such as one in Utah, have used a location-based approach instead of Apple-Google system, which requires apps using it to eschew GPS and emphasizes anonymity. Apple and Google have also said they will turn the system off when the pandemic is over. 

One of the most successful exposure notification apps using the Apple-Google system is in Germany. The app, called Corona-Warn-App, was downloaded over 16 million times at the end of July out of a population of 82 million, according to the BBC. In France, which used a different Bluetooth system not backed by the tech giants, only 14 people were notified using the app over its first three weeks. 

One issue with the apps is that they will need to be installed by a large percentage of the population to work effectively — if a phone isn’t running the app, then it will miss potential exposures. One study by researchers at Oxford University suggested that 60% of the population would need to install an exposure notification app to suppress the virus.

“Effective is going to be anyone’s guess as how you want to describe that. But they also state in the [Oxford] study that they estimate that for every one to two app users, you will potentially reduce the infection by one,” Stover said. 

Virginia plans to heavily advertise the app on billboards, digital ads, and through partnerships with schools and workplaces, and Google has offered advertising credits for its search engine and Google Play app store, officials said. 

Google said last week in a blog post that 20 states and territories are “exploring” apps based on the system. While the app works outside of Virginia, positive tests require a six-digit pin from the Virginia Department of Health to notify others, effectively limiting its range. 

There is no plan for a national coronavirus exposure app, but Virginia officials said that the state is likely to participate in a program building a “national key server” that would enable apps from different states to work together.

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Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra in white poses for the camera, alleged pricing leaks – GSMArena.com news – GSMArena.com

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A few days ago it was made clear that Xiaomi is going with the Mi 10 Ultra moniker instead of the previously rumored Mi 10 Pro Plus. A couple of leaked promo posters revealed the back design of the phone but a more recent live image is here to give us a closer look at how the handset will look in person.

The white back panel isn’t just plain white. It has a subtle pearl-like gradient while the close-up shot of the camera module confirms the 120x zoom, the quad-camera array and the overall design of the camera stack.

Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra in white poses for the camera, alleged pricing leaks

The pricing of the Mi 10 Pro Ultra has leaked as well from the same source. The report claims that the Mi 10 Ultra will start at CNY 6,299 (~$900) for the 12GB/256GB version and will ask additional CNY 700 (~$100) for the beefed-up 12GB/512GB configuration. The same screenshot reveals the Redmi K30 Ultra pricing, which is believed to be CNY 2,399, CNY 2,799 or CNY 3,499 depending on the storage configuration.

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Huawei may no longer be able to produce its own chips after Sept. 15 – IT World Canada

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As Huawei copes with its 5G network gear being banned in key global markets, the production of its Kirin system-on-chip (SoC) used for its smartphones has all but stalled.

According to the Associated Press, Huawei will stop producing its Kirin SoCs after Sept. 15. Richard Yu, Huawei’s president of its consumer group, described the news as a “very big loss” during the China Info 100 conference.

“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 elaborated. “This year may be the last generation of Huawei Kirin high-end chips.”

In May 2019, the U.S. government placed Huawei onto an Entity list over concerns that the company may use its telecom equipment to spy for the Chinese government. The blacklist also barred Huawei’s gear from being installed in the U.S.’ 5G networks.

Under the new restrictions, U.S. technology companies could no longer conduct businesses with Huawei. This caused Google to sever ties with the company, cutting Huawei off from the official release of the Android operating system and the Google Play Store. Google’s Android operating system is the most prevalent mobile operating system in the world. Losing access to it meant Huawei must find an alternative to recapture markets outside of China.

The Huawei Mate 30 Pro uses Huawei’s Kirin 990 SoC.

Today, Huawei smartphones run a custom version of EMUI based on the Android Open Software Project (AOSP), an open-sourced variant of Android. While AOSP doesn’t need special licensing from Google and can still get security updates, it doesn’t have access to Google’s Play Store. Additionally, compatibility and upgrading need extra work from the operator.

Huawei developed Huawei AppGallery to fill in the hole void behind by the Google Play Store. Moreover, it prepared its Hong Meng multi-platform operating system in case it loses Android completely.

In May 2020, the U.S. government further announced that semiconductor manufacturers using U.S. equipment would need to be granted a licence to sell chips for Huawei. Two months after the announcement, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), which produces a lion’s share of Huawei’s Kirin smartphone SoCs, said it would stop supplying chips to Huawei after Sept. 14.

It’s unclear whether the U.S. would grant a license to TSMC to sell chips to Huawei, or if TSMC has even applied for one.

In the meantime, Huawei is looking within China for options. According to the Hong Kong publication Asia Times, one promising candidate is Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), China’s largest foundry. Although it lacks the capacity to fulfill Huawei’s massive demands, Huawei can offload extra orders to smaller fabs, such as Shanghai Microelectronics, who has recently announced that it’s willing to capture any excess orders.

But, as highlighted by Yu, Huawei’s current predicament remains dire: Huawei’s smartphone production has “no chips and no supply,” he said.


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Public Research Findings: Threat to live music extended as more Canadians to avoid public events for longer – Canada NewsWire

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TORONTO, Aug. 10, 2020 /CNW/ – Music Canada commissioned Abacus Data to conduct public opinion research to determine how the music industry is being impacted by Canadians’ changing feelings around music, during the pandemic. The second round of the national public opinion survey found that an increasing number of Canadians are concerned about COVID-19, and a growing number of them plan to avoid public events even after restrictions are lifted, resulting in a longer threat to live music.

“The ongoing triple threat facing the live music industry, and all mass gathering industries, requires government action,” said Patrick Rogers, Interim co-Chief Executive Officer. “This threat includes the medical concerns that Canadians have about the virus, that government restrictions on large gatherings will remain well into recovery, and that even after government restrictions are lifted, confidence in returning to live events will continue to be low.”

“Live music was one of the first sectors impacted by the pandemic, and it will continue to feel the impacts long after restrictions are lifted,” continued Rogers. “Artists, venues and support staff will require further support long after other elements of the economy have reopened.”

Concern among Canadians about the pandemic remains elevated, with more believing that “the worst is yet to come” than did in April. The research shows that even as economies begin to slowly re-open, more Canadians expect to stay away from live music events long after physical distancing restrictions are lifted. Even those who regularly attended live music events before the pandemic, 55% said that they will wait at least 6 months or longer to attend a music festival after physical restrictions end – and for large concert venues, it was 60%. Perceptions of risk for attending these types of events are rising over time – instead of declining. The findings ultimately point to the prolonged threat faced by the live music industry.

“This research confirms that Canadians continue to worry about the health impacts of COVID-19. While both artists and fans dearly miss the live music experience, it is clear that ongoing concerns about the virus will continue to significantly impact live events well into 2021,” said Jackie Dean, Music Canada’s Interim co-Chief Executive Officer. “The results show that certain safety measures will help attract some live music lovers back to live events – but many will remain hesitant.”

Many Canadians want to get back to enjoying live music when it’s safe to do so. As the pandemic continues, the research found that self-identified “live music lovers” now miss live music even more than they did in April. 90% of respondents in this group now say “I really miss going to concerts” – and 89% of this group agree that digital content will never replace the feeling of seeing live music (an increase of 5% from polling conducted at the end of April).

This research builds upon Abacus Data’s findings from earlier in the pandemic. In May, Abacus’ national public opinion survey identified the triple threat the music industry faces in its recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.

Music Canada also commissioned Abacus Data to conduct national research that explores the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic through the experience of Canada’s artists. That research found that professional musicians are feeling increasing pressure as a result of the pandemic, due to a reduction in income and their ability to produce music that threatens their ability to survive.

“The pandemic has had a devastating impact on artists’ ability to perform, to create, and to earn a living from their music,” said Miranda Mulholland, artist and Chair of the Music Canada Advisory Council. “While the findings are bleak, this series of research is providing valuable insights for artists, industry, and government as we look for safe ways to return to work. It is clear that artists and those who work closely with them in the live performance space will need further support as the economy begins to reopen.”

For more information on the findings released from Abacus Data, please visit: https://abacusdata.ca/live-music-threat-pandemic-music-canada/.

About Music Canada

Music Canada is a non-profit trade organization that represents the major record companies in Canada:  Sony Music Entertainment Canada, Universal Music Canada and Warner Music Canada. Music Canada also works with some of the leading independent record labels and distributors, recording studios, live music venues, concert promoters, managers and artists in the promotion and development of the music cluster.

SOURCE Music Canada

For further information: Erica Meekes, Music Canada, [email protected], (416) 462-1485

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www.musiccanada.com

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