There’s a massive error with UK’s contact-tracing coronavirus app

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covid.19.coronavirus.graphic1
App may not have been sending out alerts correctly.
Photo: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The UK’s botched contact-tracing COVID app has run into its latest hurdle — this time the fact that thousands of people have been possibly exposed to coronavirus without being told that this is the case.

The reason for this is that the app used the wrong risk threshold to send out warnings. In essence, it assumed that people were too far away for transmission to be possible — even when they weren’t. As a result, “shockingly low” numbers of people received warnings.

Lack of COVID-19 contact-tracing apps shows limits of Apple’s power

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iOS 13.7 contact tracing feature: Life-saver, or NSA spy tool?
It's not Apple's fault. But it's certainly frustrating.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

Apple and Google moved fast to develop a COVID-19 contact-tracing solution that was both smart and privacy conscious. Unfortunately, more than six months after the companies announced the cross-platform approach to contact tracing, few places in the United States use it.

It’s a tough lesson for the world’s biggest tech company. And one that everyone is a little bit poorer for having learned.

COVID-19, riots finish off Minneapolis Apple Store

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Say goodbye to the Uptown Apple Store in Minneapolis.
The Uptown Apple Store in Minneapolis didn’t survive multiple blows from 2020.
Photo: Apple

The Uptown Apple Store in Minneapolis closed its doors for good. Though it might be more accurate to say the store won‘t reopen, as it’s been shuttered to the public since March due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

That didn’t stop the store from being damaged by rioters in May after the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. 2020 has been just extra hard on it.

This wireless charger will disinfect your iPhone [Review]

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The Mophie UV Sanitizer With Wireless Charging can blast your iPhone with germ-killing ultraviolet light.
This wireless charger can blast your iPhone with germ-killing ultraviolet light.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

With a recent study showing the virus that causes COVID-19 can live up to 28 days on glass and stainless steel, it might be time to double down on your disinfectant efforts. Remind me again what iPhones are made of … oh, yeah, glass and metal. Yikes!

One easy way to sanitize your iPhone and other small items is to use a device like the Mophie UV Sanitizer with a built-in wireless charger. While the company doesn’t specifically claim that the device kills COVID-19 dead, another recent study showed definitively that ultraviolet light can kill the potentially deadly virus.

At some point, “better safe than sorry” comes into play.

10 states now use Apple and Google’s contact-tracing API, with more on the way

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iOS 13.7 contact tracing feature: Life-saver, or NSA spy tool?
Several months later, Apple and Google's contact tracing tool is finally gaining momentum.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

More than two months after Virginia became the first state to use Apple and Google’s Exposure Notifications API, a total of 10 states now distribute their own contact-tracing apps to fight COVID-19.

The two most recent — New York and New Jersey — launched their apps last week.

Will Apple’s Oct. 29 earnings call bring another pandemic miracle?

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Apple Q4 2020 earnings on Oct. 29: When it comes to Apple earnings, CEO Tim Cook seems to have a reality-distortion field of his own.
When it comes to Apple earnings, CEO Tim Cook seems to operate a reality distortion field of his own.
Photo illustration: Cult of Mac

When Apple holds its fiscal Q4 2020 earnings call on Oct. 29, can the company deliver another pandemic miracle?

We’ll all find out at 2 p.m. Pacific that day, when Apple live-streams its earnings call. (Actually, we’ll undoubtedly find out a half-hour earlier than that, when Cupertino issues its press release outlining its quarterly results).

Following last quarter’s record-setting results, Wall Street will be waiting with bated breath to see if Apple once again found a way to spin gold amid the economic disaster caused by COVID-19.

Design-obsessed Apple crafts its own face mask [Updated]

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Apple-shield
This was Apple’s original face shield. It has a new model now.
Photo: Apple

Apple designed its own face mask because of course it did. A company long known for setting itself apart from the competition with superior design couldn’t use over-the-counter masks to protect employees and customers from COVID-19.

Instead, the team that ordinarily designs Macs and iPhones dreamed up their own face covering for Apple employees, including the people that work in Apple retail stores.