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Where the U.K. went wrong with its COVID-19 contact tracing app – VentureBeat

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(Reuters) — As Britain’s COVID-19 infections soared in the spring, the government reached for what it hoped could be a game changer — a smartphone app that could automate some of the work of human contact tracers.

The origin of the NHS COVID-19 app goes back to a meeting on March 7, when three Oxford scientists met experts at NHSX, the technical arm of the U.K.’s health service. The scientists presented an analysis that concluded manual contact tracing alone couldn’t control the epidemic.

“Given the infectiousness of SARS-CoV-2 and the high proportion of transmissions from presymptomatic individuals, controlling the epidemic by manual contact tracing is infeasible,” concluded the Oxford scientists’ paper, which was published in the journal Science two months later.

The Oxford researchers believed a smartphone app could help locate individuals who didn’t know they were infected — and by alerting them quickly could reduce and even halt the epidemic if enough people used it. Within days of the meeting, NHSX began the process of awarding millions of dollars worth of no-bid contracts to develop such an app, government procurement records show.

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In the weeks that followed, ministers seized on the technology as a route out of Britain’s lockdown, which had begun on March 23. At a Downing Street coronavirus briefing on April 12, health secretary Matt Hancock announced that testing had begun on what he called the government’s “next step — a new NHS app for contact tracing.”

He explained people could use the app to report feeling unwell and it would anonymously alert other app users who had recently been in close contact with them. On April 28, he said he expected the app to be ready by mid-May.

Privately, some researchers who had proposed the app were dismayed that the government had stopped widespread testing on March 12, a decision they believed undermined the app’s effectiveness and public health in general. “We were very clear from the start that this thing needed to work with testing,” David Bonsall, a clinical scientist at Oxford who attended the March 7 meeting, told Reuters.

By early May, transport secretary Grant Shapps was heralding a test of the app on England’s Isle of Wight. “Later in the month, that app will be rolled out and deployed, assuming the tests are successful, of course, to the population at large,” he said. “This is a fantastic way to ensure that we are able to really keep a lid on this going forward.”

Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware, the Silicon Valley tech firm hired to develop the app, told a Fox Business television interviewer on May 8, “I tell you, we think this is the best one in the world, and we’re really thrilled to be working with the NHS in the U.K. to help bring it about.”

But by the end of May, government officials were downplaying the app. In an interview with Sky News, Hancock called the app “helpful,” but said traditional contact tracing needed to be rolled out first. Quoting another official, he said, “It puts the cherry on the cake but isn’t the cake.”

Behind the scenes, NHSX testers were discovering serious technical problems.

The agency had opted to develop an app that collected and stored data on central servers that could be used by health authorities and epidemiologists to study the disease. It relied on a technology called Bluetooth to determine who had recently been near someone displaying symptoms and for how long.

NHSX testers were finding that while the app could detect three-quarters of nearby smartphones using Google’s Android operating system, it sometimes could only identify 4% of Apple iPhones, according to government officials. The problem was that, on Apple devices, the app often couldn’t utilize Bluetooth because of a design choice by Apple to preserve user privacy and prolong battery life.

The issue was no secret. Apple and Google had jointly announced in April that they would release a toolkit to better enable Bluetooth on contact tracing apps. But to protect user privacy, it would only work on apps that stored data on phones, not central servers. The NHSX app didn’t work that way.

The government insisted it had developed a successful workaround to overcome the Apple issue. But not everyone was convinced. The advocacy group Privacy International, which had tested the app in early May, “found it wasn’t working properly on iPhones,” Gus Hosein, the group’s executive director, told Reuters. But because of the government’s assurances, he said, “We just assumed we were doing something wrong.”

Other countries, including Germany, decided they would change their apps to work with the Apple-Google toolkit. That raised another problem with the U.K. app — it likely wouldn’t be compatible with many other contact tracing apps, so British travelers wouldn’t be notified if they were exposed to the virus.

On June 18, weeks after the U.K. app was supposed to be rolled out, government officials announced a dramatic U-turn — they would abandon the app being tested on the Isle of Wight and try to create one that worked with the Apple-Google technology. Work had already begun on it, and they had learned lessons from the test, they said.

NHSX referred questions about the app to the health department, which said, “Developing effective contact tracing technology is a challenge facing countries around the world, and there is currently no solution that is accurate enough on estimating distance, identifying other users, and calculating duration, which are all required for contact tracing.”

A spokesperson for VMware said it “is proud of the work we have done and continue to do to rapidly develop an application to support the U.K.’s contact tracing and testing efforts.”

A government official expressed confidence the app would be ready by the autumn or winter — although initially, the official said, it might not contain contact tracing at all, but offer other services that are yet to be determined.

(Reporting by Steve Stecklow, edited by Janet McBride.)

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Samsung Galaxy Note20+ goes through FCC, poses for live photos – GSMArena.com news – GSMArena.com

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The latest news about the Samsung Galaxy Note20 shows a Black Galaxy Note20 captured in live images by Samsung leaker @JimmyIsPromo. The images come just a few days after Samsung accidentally posted renders of the Note20 on its own website.

The phone shot was a plain black model with a glossy finish. We are expecting other colors to come with a matte finish – akin to the one on some of the Samsung Galaxy S20 models.

Here, we also get a good look at the triple camera setup that we saw in the leaked renders. The third camera (from top to bottom) is a periscope zoom camera and we don’t see any “Space Zoom 100X” branding like the S20 Ultra had.


Source: @JimmyIsPromo Via: Twitter

Source: @JimmyIsPromo Via: Twitter

@JimmyIsPromo also mentions that the S Pen and downward-firing loudspeaker will be on the left side of the USB-C port, which aligns with decision of putting the volume and power keys back on the right side (the Note10 and Note10+ had the power and volume keys on the left side).

On a similar note, the Samsung Galaxy Note20+ was spotted going through the FCC. The model number SM-N986U has been referenced in three different reports that we covered (1,2,3).

The phone’s FCCID number is A3LSMN986U and with Samsung’s event reportedly taking place in August, this certification is arriving right on schedule.

Source • Via Twitter • Via 2

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Huawei Mate V might be on the way, folding inwards – GSMArena.com news – GSMArena.com

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Huawei and Samsung have so far diverged on what the best design would be for a phone that can turn into a tablet through the magic of folding screens. While Samsung’s Galaxy Fold folds inwards, Huawei’s Mate X and Mate Xs both fold outwards.

While Samsung has been rumored to stick with its previous design for the upcoming Galaxy Z Fold 2, and improve upon the formula, Huawei may just give up on its unique path and actually join Samsung in the inward-folding realm for the next device.

This has been referred to in rumors as Mate X2, but Huawei has recently filed for a new trademark in the EU that hints at something different. The mark in question is Mate V, and that name implies a different design than the Mate X and Mate Xs.

A V might stand for ‘folding like a book’, hence, inwards. It’s also interesting that back in April Huawei filed for a design patent proposing just such a departure from its former antics.

Huawei Mate V might be on the way, folding inwards

With the next Huawei foldable expected to become official around October, we should start seeing some leaks about it soon, so hang tight and we’ll let you know which way it will go.

Via (in Dutch)

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Pixel 5 renders based on leaks showcase hole-punch camera and rear fingerprint sensor – MobileSyrup

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Three-dimensional CAD renders of the highly anticipated Pixel 5 have leaked online.

According to the renderings, the phone measures in at 44.6mm long, 70.4mm wide and 8mm thick or 9.5mm thick if you include the rear camera bump. This means that the Pixel 5 features slightly smaller dimensions than the iPhone 11.

If these renders are accurate, the design for this upcoming flagship is poised to be a bit odd in a few ways, but generally, the phone looks similar to the still-unannounced Pixel 4a. The front of the Pixel 5 sports a display with substantial bezels surrounding it. The screen also has a hole-punch camera, which means Google will be ditching the Motion Sense technology featured in the Pixel 4 series.

On the rear the handset features a square-shaped camera module similar to the Pixel 4 series, with the flash at the top and not the bottom. The device also sports a rear fingerprint sensor instead of an in-display scanner like other modern flagship Android smartphones.

Additionally, the handset features a USB Type-C port on the bottom with two speaker grills flanking it. It’s likely the Pixel 5 will sport aluminum sides and a glass back, but it’s unclear what material the phone is made of. Pigtou in collaboration with relatively unknown leaker David Kowalski shared the renders showcasing the front and the back of Google’s still-unannounced next flagship smartphone.

Previous rumours suggest the Pixel 5 will feature a Snapdragon 765 chipset and a 5.78-inch OLED display with QHD resolution.

Similar to past years, Google is expected to launch the Pixel 5 in October. As with all leaks, I’d take this with a grain of salt and wait until Google officially unveils its flagship, especially given it’s only a CAD render.

Image credit: Pigtou

Source: Pigtou,  David Kowalski (@xleaks7)

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