March 5, 2021

Tech News

A leaked scientific report jointly prepared by Israel’s health ministry and Pfizer claims that the company’s covid-19 vaccine is stopping nine out of 10 infections and the country could approach herd immunity by next month.

The study, based on the health records of hundreds of thousands of Israelis, finds that the vaccine may sharply curtail transmission of the coronavirus. “High vaccine uptake can meaningfully stem the pandemic and offers hope for eventual control of the pandemic as vaccination programs ramp up across the rest of the world,” according to the authors.

The nationwide study was described by the Israeli news website Ynet on Thursday, and a copy was obtained by MIT Technology Review.

The findings are important because Israel is leading the world in vaccinating its population, turning the country into real-life laboratory to understand if vaccines can end the pandemic.

So far Israel has fully vaccinated 32% of its … Read the rest

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Apple’s App Store privacy labels are here — but do they help? | Apple

They’re not perfect, but App Store users still get something out of them.

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Apple’s privacy “nutrition labels” have been in the App Store for just over two months now. Privacy advocates were generally pleased to see these easy-to-read versions of app privacy policies; educating users about the secretive inner workings of their apps is almost always a positive development.

The labels are just one of Apple’s new policies to give users more privacy at the possible expense of the app economy, which largely relies on collecting and selling furtively acquired user data. In early spring, Apple will release iOS 14.5, which will force apps to get user permission to track users across different apps for ad targeting, a move that Facebook has vocally opposed — and its exceedingly long labels may be a good hint as … Read the rest

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Democracies around the world are all mired in one crisis or another, which is why measures of their health are trending in the wrong direction. Many look at the decline of the news industry as one contributing factor. No wonder, then, that figuring out how to pay for journalism is an urgent issue, and some governments are pushing ahead with ambitious plans. Big ideas for ways to funnel billions of dollars back into newsrooms are rare, but it’s time to take a gamble on more than one. 

Such an idea rose to the world’s attention this week: an Australian law that would compel search and social media platforms to pay news organizations for linking to their content. Google has decided to comply with the law and is doing deals with major companies such as News Corp, Nine, and Seven West Media. But Facebook took the other route—rather than pay for … Read the rest

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An activist dressed as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in Belgium, which also has a few fans in favor of government regulations on Big Tech. | Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

The social media giant cut millions of Australians off from the news to protest a potential law with a lot of flaws.

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Facebook’s sudden move on Wednesday to cut Australians off from the news (and the rest of the world from Australian news) was as surprising as it was draconian. It blocked Australians from sharing any news links, Australian news publications from hosting their content on the platform, and the rest of us from sharing links to Australian news sites. It also may be a preview of how the platform will respond to the almost-certain future attempts to regulate its business — not just in Australia, but all over the world.

Now that we’ve had a few days to see how it’s … Read the rest

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How did this app get approved?

What you need to know

  • Apple has pulled an app from the App Store the promoted gathering during the pandemic.
  • The app, called Vybe Together, encouraged people to “get your rebel on.”

Reported by The Verge, Apple has taken an app off of the App Store that promoted people to attend parties during the COVID-19 pandemic. The app, called Vybe Together, has also been banned from TikTok.

The app had billed itself as a way for people to plan and find underground parties and “get your rebel on.”

Vybe Together billed itself on TikTok and its website as a place to organize and attend underground parties, using the tagline “Get your rebel on. Get your party on.” Organizers would have to approve everyone who wanted to attend, and the ones that got approved would receive the address two hours before the event. Most

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  • The AirPods Pro 2 might come in two different sizes, according to images showing purported AirPods components.
  • Several reports have claimed that Apple is developing a new AirPods Pro version, looking to reduce earphone size and possibly eliminate the stem.
  • The new AirPods Pro version is expected to launch in 2021, but there’s no firm release date for it.

Open an AirPods Pro box, and the first thing you see is the actual product. The two wireless earphones sit inside their case and are ready for use. Inside the box, you’ll also find different replaceable rubber tips so that you can get the best possible fit. That’s just one of the advantages of the AirPods Pro over the regular AirPods. The Pros also have a much smaller footprint than the original models, as the stem has been significantly reduced. More importantly, the AirPods Pro offer active noise cancellation support, a … Read the rest

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A spacesuit is more like a miniature spacecraft you wear around your body than an item of clothing. It’s pressurized, it’s decked out with life support systems, and it’s likely to look pretty cool. But should the suit fail, you’re toast. 

No one has ever died because of a faulty spacesuit, but that doesn’t mean current models are perfect. Whether it’s for launch into space or reentry back to Earth, or for an extravehicular activity (EVA, colloquially known as a spacewalk), astronauts have never been completely satisfied with the gear they are forced to put on for missions. 

Fortunately, though, the flurry of new activity in space has meant we’re seeing more innovation in spacesuit design and performance than ever before. The suits look better, too. The emergence of new private vehicles like SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner means NASA astronauts going to the International Space Station are wearing … Read the rest

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A US postal worker delivers Amazon boxes in New York City. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

When we look back at 2020 in the business world, we’ll remember it as the year online shopping stopped being the future of retail and became the present.

On March 4, I commuted into Vox Media’s New York City headquarters for what would end up being the final time during the godforsaken year of 2020. On the way in, I made a pit stop for some coffee, spending $3.89 on a bottle of Chameleon Cold-Brew, but left without handing over a card or cash on the way out. That’s because I had made that final purchase at a cashierless convenience store owned by a certain e-commerce giant: Amazon. Nine months later, that last stop looks like an appropriate harbinger of the major changes that would sweep across a big part of American life this year: … Read the rest

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Better brain function in older people can be added to the list of health benefits associated with drinking tea, researchers at Newcastle University have found. (Credits: PA)

Better brain function in older people can be added to the list of health benefits associated with drinking tea, researchers have found.

In a study of those aged over 85, tea drinkers who enjoyed more than five cups a day were shown to have more focus and a sustained attention span.

The Newcastle University study also found that they demonstrated better psychomotor skills – which link brain and movement.

Tea drinkers also showed better accuracy and speed of reaction. These skills could help in daily activities such as driving, sewing and finishing a jigsaw.

Previous research has shown that tea has health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and may even aid weight loss.

But researcher Dr Edward Okello at Newcastle … Read the rest

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Update the Apple Research app to fix the bug.

What you need to know

  • The Apple Hearing Study accidentally collected historical data from its participants.
  • The data has been deleted and a bug fix released.

In an email sent out to participants of the Apple Hearing Study, it appears that a bug has caused the study to unintentionally collect thirty days of historical data. The data collected were those already consented to by users, but the consent form that users agree to did not state that historical data would be collected.

The letter did confirm that at no time did Apple have access to any of the historical data and that it has already been deleted. In order to fix the bug, users need to update to the latest version of the Apple Research app. Until they do, historical data will continue to be looked for and deleted.

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