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Why Apple and Google are moving away from the term 'contact tracing' – CNET

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Apple and Google have announced updates to their coronavirus tracking tools. 


Angela Lang/CNET

For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Two weeks ago, Apple and Google announced a major joint project to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus. Health authorities would build contact tracing apps for the tech giants’ mobile platforms, which would use signals from people’s phones to alert them if they’ve been in contact with someone who’s tested positive for COVID-19. But since then, Apple and Google have been met with scrutiny and pushback over the privacy implications of such a system. Critics worry about the possibility of abuse or spying. 

To assuage those fears, the two companies on Friday outlined a series of technical tweaks to better uphold privacy, but the most important change may’ve been something far simpler: Saying the tools are for “exposure notification” instead of “contact tracing.”

Apple and Google told reporters on a joint conference call that the new terminology is simply a more accurate description of the project. The shift is in a sense a rebranding effort, but it’s more than cosmetic. Ditching a term like “tracing,” which could have ominous connotations of surveillance, may go a long way in getting consumers to use the tools. Public perception of the project is especially important as tech companies contend with past privacy scandals that have cratered trust in the industry. 

Contact tracing has existed since long before Apple and Google decided to get involved. The practice is time-tested in the world of public health and has been used to track the spread of infectious diseases including tuberculosis, the measles and Ebola. (For COVID-19 other big names, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are already involved in digital contact tracing efforts.) But as Google and Apple try to get billions of people across the world to sign up for the tools, the meaning of the term could get lost or misinterpreted, said Tim Bajarin, president of the research firm Creative Strategies. 

“Words matter,” Bajarin said. “That term is used in the medical community but doesn’t necessarily translate to common vernacular.” 

Apple and Google on Friday emphasized the importance of user trust. The two companies said they wanted people to understand that their devices weren’t being used as location trackers, but instead were playing a part in a larger public health effort. To better educate people, the companies released a list of frequently asked questions aimed at consumers. It explains the basics of the project, like how the tools work, if people can turn them off, and where the data is stored. 

‘Poor record on privacy’

The tech industry is already in the doghouse over data privacy. Google is often criticized for its business model, which relies on user data collected through its search engine, maps and other services to let advertisers target specific audiences with their messages. The search giant has also been accused of being less than forthright with its location data permissions, collecting the information when people thought they’d turned the setting off


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Apple has a much sturdier reputation on privacy but has also been criticized for how it treats user data. For example, last year Apple, Google and Amazon all drew blowback after they admitted they were sharing queries from their respective voice assistants with third-party contractors, to help improve their respective natural language software efforts. The companies responded to the outcry by letting people delete their voice data.

All these companies have also said over the years that they take privacy concerns seriously and that their data-related features are intended to improve the usefulness of products for consumers.

The contact tracing project has prompted scrutiny from lawmakers, as well. Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, said Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook should be held personally responsible for user data collected through the tools. Hawley particularly slammed Google.

“Especially because of Google’s poor record on privacy, I fear that your project could pave the way for something much more dire,” the senator wrote in a letter to Pichai and Cook earlier this week. “If you seek to assure the public, make your stake in this project personal. Make a commitment that you and other executives will be personally liable if you stop protecting privacy, such as by granting advertising companies access to the interface once the pandemic is over.” 

Hawley added, “Americans are right to be skeptical of this project.” 

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Toronto-based duo create custom puzzles to support local businesses – Eat North

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A duo of award-winning Toronto-based creatives has found a unique way to support local businesses while providing hours of engagement to fill Canadians’ increased downtime.

Paddy Harrington, creative designer and founder of Frontier, and Rich Pauptit, celebrated printer and president of Flash Reproductions, are teaming up with independent Canadian businesses and artists who are facing financial hardship due to COVID-19 to create custom thematic jigsaw puzzles. 

“Puzzle sales have skyrocketed as people look for engaging things to do at home,” explains Harrington. “We believe that people would prefer to do puzzles of their favourite local spots, while also supporting those businesses–and PieceTogether was born.”

Each 300-piece PieceTogether puzzle features an image from a local business and sells for $35, with $15 from every puzzle sold going directly to the business. Customers are able to offer additional donations at checkout. 

Since launching on May 27, PieceTogether has partnered with local businesses like Rosalinda Restaurant, Dora Keogh Irish Pub, The Cameron House, Renya, Shacklands Brewing Co., and Stackt market. 

According to sources like Calgary’s Castle Toys, puzzle sales have increased by as much as 370 per cent in the last year, and while those numbers are likely to decrease as the Canadian economy gradually reopens, PieceTogether can continue to provide a valuable revenue stream for businesses and artists as they attempt to adjust to the new landscape.

“Even as restrictions ease, many of these smaller businesses will still have to operate at a loss; it’s going to be difficult for a long time,” Pauptit adds. “It’s just devastating to think that some of our favourite neighbourhood places to visit may have to close down. With PieceTogether puzzles, you get something fun to do at home as well as an easy way to support these vital independent businesses. Plus, it’s a special keepsake that people will enjoy for years to come.”

Independent businesses and artists from across Canada can participate by setting up a profile and uploading an image to create their own custom puzzle

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Now you can buy puzzles of Toronto businesses – NOW Magazine

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In Toronto, puzzles have become an increasingly popular pandemic pastime. Seemingly endless time indoors means we’re all partying like it’s 1799, with local gift and game shops having a hard time keeping puzzles in stock.

A new Toronto startup wants to combine our newly-minted jones for jigsaws with the opportunity to help out struggling small businesses. PieceTogether is a new project that creates jigsaw puzzles featuring images of beloved local businesses – and gives $15 from every $35 sale directly back to the business.

“Even as restrictions ease many of these smaller businesses will still have to operate at a loss, it’s going to be difficult for a long time,” said co-founder Rich Pauptit in a release. “It’s just devastating to think that some of our favourite neighbourhood places to visit may have to close down.”

By buying a puzzle, he adds, “you get something fun to do at home as well as an easy way to support these vital independent businesses.”

Among the first wave of puzzles available for purchase: The Cameron House’s iconic exterior, the leafy cocktail bar Reyna, a cool bottle of beer from Shacklands, and a bird’s eye view of Stackt, with even more on the way. Check out the full lineup here.

@nataliamanzocco

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Google Silently Releases Android Auto in More Countries – autoevolution

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Google has reportedly launched Android Auto in new countries, as users have started seeing it in the Google Play Store and they are allowed to install it just like any other Android game or app.
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While it’s technically possible to install and use Android Auto in pretty much any market out there using the stand-alone APK installer, the app is officially supported only in a limited number of countries, which means only users living there can download and install it from the Google Play Store.

But more recently, users in a couple of new countries have been provided with the official Android Auto listing the Google Play Store, including here those in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Users who turned to reddit to confirm that Android Auto is now live in these two countries explain that they can “update it legitimately,” as seen in the screenshot here.

Others based the same countries, however, claim Android Auto isn’t available in the Google Play Store on their devices, so the app either rolls out in stages to these users or the Play Store updates are actually the result of the app originally being installed with the APK file.

In other words, if Android Auto is deployed using the dedicated APK installer, then updates are automatically served through the Google Play Store, and this is why some might be tempted to believe the app is now officially supported in their country.

But one user in the Netherlands says this isn’t the case, as updates through the Google Play Store weren’t possible before.

I couldn’t update it through the store prior tot this, even with android 10. So I had to keep reinstalling through apk. Android auto seem to work different for a lot of people though. On my s9 plus it won’t show up in the store, even if I reinstall it on this phone (s10+)it will still show up in the store. On my phone it’s not a system app though,” one user explains.

Google is yet to officially announce the availability of Android Auto in more countries, so our only option is to actually wait until a confirmation on this is offered. Until then, a healthy dose of skepticism is definitely recommended.

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