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Apple is said to be working on a MagSafe iPhone 12 battery pack.

27th February 2021
"Apple might have a separate magnetic accessory on its mind."

Apple is working on the battery pack accessory that will wirelessly attach to the iPhone 12 using the company's MagSafe device, according to Bloomberg's article on Friday.

 

Apple launched MagSafe charging and attachments as part of its iPhone 12 collection last October. It's reminiscent of the MagSafe feature that used to be on all MacBooks, where the power cord was auto-attached and quickly snapped off. The battery pack, which is said to have been in production for at least a year, will join a bunch of MagSafe magnetic accessories that clip onto the back of the iPhone 12, such as covers, chargers, mounts, and wallets.

The MagSafe battery pack will only have an extra charge and not provide a full safety case like the previous iPhone battery add-ons. Any of the accessory designs had a white rubber exterior, according to Bloomberg.

Developing the battery pack has been slowed down due to technical issues and other concerns, according to Bloomberg, and there's a risk that the accessory could face delays or be scrapped together.

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Apple, Google launch contact tracing platform

25th February 2021
"When the crisis has disappeared, the system must be taken down."

A report in AFP states that, US tech giants Apple and Google said Wednesday they were offering health authorities around the world their platform for coronavirus contact tracing, a key tool in trying to tame the pandemic.

"The work public health officials are doing around the world humbles us all," the two companies said in a statement.

"Google and Apple are clear that this is not a panacea but we do believe Exposure Notifications can make a contribution to the broader work of contact tracing," they said.

Under the notifications system, someone exposed to a person who tests positive for COVID-19 will receive an alert on their phone.

"Public health authorities will take the lead with this technology, and we will continue to support and advocate for it."

They said they would release software updates for health authorities to use to deploy their own apps, developed by their own technical staff.

In Europe, most countries are leaning toward the use of the Apple-Google platform but France and Britain have opted to develop their own systems, currently being tested.

The two US firms said 22 countries had so far asked to use their platform and they expect more to come on board in the coming weeks.

Amid concerns about the security and use of the personal data such tracing apps will generate, Google and Apple laid down several conditions for the use of their technology.

The first is that any app based on it must be voluntary, not gather geolocation data, and not be used for commercial purposes.

In addition, only one app per country is allowed so that there is no competition involved while it will be up to the individual user to declare if they have been infected with the coronavirus or not.

When the crisis has disappeared, the system must be taken down.

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Compiled by : Debashish S Neupane Debashish S Neupane

Google, Apple roll out built-in COVID-19 exposure notifications to phones

25th February 2021
"The new system - called Exposure Notifications Express"

Alphabet Inc’s Google and Apple Inc on Tuesday announced a new system that will enable public health authorities to use smartphones to assist in contact tracing without having to build an app.

The new system - called Exposure Notifications Express - will allow public health officials to submit a small configuration file to Apple and Google. The two tech companies will then use the file to set up systems that phone owners can opt in to in order to determine whether they have been near someone who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

In the case of iPhones, a new version of the iOS operating system being released on Tuesday will alert users whether an exposure notification system is available from local health authorities and allow users to set it up without downloading any new apps. On Android devices, users will also get a prompt from the phone’s operating system, but will still have to download an automatically generated app.

The two companies said Maryland, Nevada, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., will be the first U.S. places to use the new system. The new system also works alongside tools that the two companies released in May that enable public health officials to build apps that allow iPhones and Android devices to use Bluetooth signals to detect proximity to a person who has tested positive.

Six U.S. states and about two dozen countries have launched exposure notification apps based on the Apple-Google technology in recent weeks without major hitches.

The apps are increasingly compatible with each other, allowing for cross-border tracking. A few jurisdictions, such as Hawaii, are moving forward with separate tracking technology.

However, the effectiveness of exposure notification apps in helping slow coronavirus spread remains a major question. Most governments are not tracking detailed data on app usage in the interest of user privacy.

In Alabama, for example, more than 1,000 students caught the virus in an outbreak in August. But a university representative said it was too early to tell whether a two-week-old state app had made any difference.

source:reuters

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Apple envisioned its fitness service long before work-from-home

27th February 2021
"Long-planned extension of the watch’s fitness features"

Apple Inc’s new paid online fitness class service, designed to work with its Apple Watch, was a long-planned extension of the watch’s fitness features rather than a quick reaction to a pandemic that has closed many gyms, executives said in an interview.

The Fitness+ service is Apple’s first subscription geared to make money directly from the sensor-packed device it has been selling since 2014.

The service, which Apple said will be available by the end of the year, has new workouts each week filmed by a team of trainers in a purpose-built studio in Los Angles and focuses on exercises that require little or no gym equipment, using Apple Watch sensors to track progress.

Many analysts viewed the service, which was announced on Tuesday, as well timed for a work-from-home world. But Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams said in an interview on Wednesday that work on the service started “quite a while ago.” He described it as “a natural extension of the goal of Apple Watch, which is to help people live a better day.”

At least pre-Covid, if you could write one prescription for the world from physicians, it would have been to be more active. It’s so powerful,” Williams said in a press briefing. “So anything we do in that realm that helps people be more active is something we’re excited about.”

Once gyms do reopen, the Fitness+ service will also work with compatible gym equipment such as smart treadmills. The service will cost $10 per month or $80 per year.

Jay Blahnik, senior director of fitness technologies at Apple, said the service’s goal is to reach as broad an audience as possible and that Apple aimed to assemble a diverse lineup of instructors.

We have trainers in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and even their 60s. Showcasing that kind of diversity was really important to us because how we move and how we train is different as we age, Blahnik said.

Source: Reuters

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