Archive for August 3, 2020

Canada’s COVID-19 Alert App Faces Criticism For Potentially Excluding Some From Using It

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 3, 2020 by itnerd

On Friday, Canada rolled out their COVID-19 app to try and control the spread of COVID-19. Called COVID Alert, it uses the Apple/Google Exposure Notification API to let users know if they have been exposed to the virus. But it is coming under criticism that the apps requirements exclude people from using it, which means that the app will be less effective:

However, the application requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system.

Christopher Parsons, a senior research associate at Citizen Lab, part of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Policy, says that makes the app inaccessible for older Canadians and other marginalized groups.

Marit Stiles, an Ontario MPP, says her parents weren’t able to download the app and questioned its wider accessibility for vulnerable and senior Canadians.

Let’s dig into this. The app requires iOS 13.5 or Android 6 to use. That’s because those are the versions that have the Apple/Google Exposure Notification API. On the iOS side of the fence, iOS 13.5 is supported by the iPhone 6S and up. That’s millions of iPhones. So if you have one of those phones, you need to make sure your phone is updated to the latest version of iOS. Though I will admit that that if you don’t have at least an iPhone 6S, that’s a problem as you are shut out from using the app.

It’s actually worse on the Android side of the fence. Depending on the Android phone that you have, you may not be able to get the updates that you need to run this app. And that’s true even if you have phone from a brand like Samsung. That’s because the carriers and the phone companies often have to play a very interesting dance in terms of getting updates to your phone. So much so that it may take months to have an update appear. Now if you have a Google or OnePlus device, the situation is a bit better as those companies push updates directly to phones like Apple does. Samsung does this to a limited degree as well. But the situation for any Android is not good.

So, how do you fix this? I think that what needs to happen is that the Canadian government needs to push Google who makes the Android OS to work with a broader array of phones by forcing phone makers and carriers who often control what updates phones get to rollout the Exposure Notification API quickly to as many phones brands as possible. And in the case of Apple, I would say that they need to port the Exposure Notification API to iOS 12 which would allow phones that don’t run iOS 13.5 to run notification apps like COVID Alert. Both of these moves would make the app far more effective as more people will be able to use this app. Hopefully this happens quickly so that this app can help to keep the curve flat.

Back-To-School Tech Ideas From HP

Posted in Commentary on August 3, 2020 by itnerd

With back to school quickly approaching, students and parents are starting to think about how to manage returning to the classroom – either in-person or at home – this September. No matter what school looks like this fall, HP has you covered with all the tech you need to get back-to-school ready.

HP ENVY Laptop (Starting from $1,099.99) : The ultimate back-to-school laptop –

  • The HP ENVY makes it easy to study from home or on the go. Designed to move with you, its fast speed and long battery life, make it easy to learn from anywhere. As well, the wide vision HD camera is perfect for video calls, and the Camera Shutter allows you to turn off the camera when it’s not in use keeping you safe and secure. 

HP Tango ($179.99 CAD): Print in Style this back-to-school – 

  • The HP Tango makes printing easy and stylish this back to school. With its sleek design, The Tango blends into your home seamlessly, while getting the job done. Plus, its smart connectivity allows you to print from anywhere using your phone or laptop and is compatible with voice control. Plus, never run out of ink again with HP Instant InkSimply pick your plan based on how much you print, and ink will be automatically ordered and delivered to your door when you’re running low. 

Check out other back to school ideas from HP here.