Apple And Google Update Contact Tracing Software
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Apple and Google announced they would work together to develop a COVID-19 Exposure Notification API. Initially, access to the contact tracing software required users to download an app from their local health authorities and opt-in to receive Exposure Notifications.
The two companies announced yesterday that the COVID-19 Exposure Notification technology will be built directly into iOS and Android. If opted-in, the technology uses Bluetooth signals to determine how closely and for how long two phones were together and warns the other if the user tests positive for the coronavirus.
The move is in large part due to a lack of adoption as health authorities have struggled to roll out their apps. The introduction of Exposure Notifications Express will eliminate the need for health authorities to develop and maintain their own app.
Only about 20 countries and regions have introduced contact tracing apps, while only six of 50 U.S. states have done so. Only half of U.S. states are even considering building their own contact tracing app.
"As the next step in our work with public health authorities on Exposure Notifications, we are making it easier and faster for them to use the Exposure Notifications System without the need for them to build and maintain an app," Apple and Google said. "Exposure Notifications Express provides another option for public health authorities to supplement their existing contact tracing operations with technology without compromising on the project’s core tenets of user privacy and security."
Public health authorities can now simply submit a configuration file with their contact information and guidance, while users will be notified to opt-in once their state or region is available. Public health authorities will still be able to maintain other apps they've built if they choose to.
"Public health agencies are carrying an extraordinary load in managing the novel coronavirus response," CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories Scott J. Becker said. "Offering a turn-key solution such as EN Express can greatly reduce their burden and eliminate many of the up-front requirements of building an app and setting up servers."
The software will be built into iOS 13.7, which was released yesterday, while the Android version will be available later this month on Android 6.0 or higher.
With widespread use of contact tracing software required for the technology to be effective, the move by Apple and Google should help speed up its adoption.
Tesla announces stock sale. Just a day after its stock split took effect, Tesla said in a filing that it will sell up to $5 billion worth of stock. Ten banks will conduct the sales "from time to time" and "at-the-market" prices based on directives from Tesla. "We intend to use the net proceeds, if any, from this offering to further strengthen our balance sheet, as well as for general corporate purposes," Tesla said. Tesla is taking advantage of the meteoric rise in its shares, which has seen the stock gain more than 500% so far this year.
Uber riders may need a selfie. Uber, which already requires drivers and delivery drivers to submit a selfie with a face covering on to access the app, may require the same for riders. Not all riders will be required to do so, but if a driver reports them for not wearing a face covering they may be required to submit a selfie the next time they access the app. "We firmly believe that accountability is a two-way street," Uber head of global safety Sachin Kansal said. The feature will roll out in the U.S. and Canada later this month.
McDonald's sued for racial discrimination. McDonald's has been hit with a racial discrimination lawsuit by 52 black former franchise owners who are seeking $1 billion in damages. The suit alleges McDonald’s didn't offer profitable restaurant locations and growth opportunities to black franchisees under the same terms it did to white franchisees. "We are confident that the facts will show how committed we are to the diversity and equal opportunity of the McDonald's System, including across our franchisees, suppliers and employees," McDonald's said in a statement.
Walmart to launch Walmart+. Walmart announced it will launch Walmart+, its membership program intended to take on Amazon Prime, on September 15. For $98 per year or $12.95 per month, Walmart+ members get unlimited free deliveries on orders over $35 with 160,000 items to choose from, discounts on gas and a feature in the Walmart app that allows them to scan items as they shop so they can skip checkout. "Customers know they can trust us and depend on us, and we've designed this program as the ultimate life hack for them. Walmart+ will bring together a comprehensive set of benefits where we see the greatest needs from our customers and where our scale can bring solutions at an unprecedented value," Walmart Chief Customer Officer Janey Whiteside said.
Facebook has an issue down under. Facebook has threatened to stop allowing users to share news articles if a proposal by Australian lawmakers calling for the company to pay news outlets for their content is passed. The proposal by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission would create a way for news organizations to negotiate payments from technology giants for their content. "This is not our first choice — it is our last," managing director for Facebook Australia and New Zealand Will Easton wrote. "But it is the only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic and will hurt, not help, the long-term vibrancy of Australia's news and media sector."