Apple expects to reopen more stores in May; Cellebrite discloses unlocking solutions to health agencies

Funcionário de uma Apple Store usando máscara

Another day, another round of news related to the pandemic of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Shall we go to them?

Apple expects to reopen more stores in May

As we know, all Apple stores around the world have been closed since March – except for China, which has reopened its doors following the steps to restore normality established by Beijing, and South Korea. Now, Apple expects to open more stores in other countries already next month.

According to the Bloomberg, the information was revealed by Apple’s senior vice president of retail and people, Deirdre O’Brien, in an update video released to company employees. O’Brien said the company «continues to analyze the health situation in all its locations» and «expects to reopen many more stores in May».

The executive did not specify the reopening locations or the exact deadline for this, but it is to be expected that the actions will take place according to the situation of each country or city: several localities continue to apply social isolation policies, without allowing the opening of services non-essentials (like Apple’s); some countries and cities, on the other hand, are already relaxing measures to reopen services.

Therefore, O’Brien’s forecast is widespread and there is no way of knowing when individual stores will reopen.

Cellebrite promoting tools

Meanwhile, the Reuters reported that a number of companies dedicated to unlocking mobile devices, such as Cellebrite, began to operate in a new segment in the midst of the pandemic: screening for possible infections.

Cellebrite unlock tool in actionCellebrite unlock tool

No, companies have not changed branches. What happens is that, with the fears caused by the virus, they are advertising their services to health agencies and authorities so that they can track citizens without their consent. Cellebrite, for example, claims to have technology that detects the location of a user who has tested positive for COVID-19 and crosses that data with that of other users, indicating possible infections and “helping to quarantine the right people” .

All of this is done without the user’s consent, since Cellebrite has the right technologies to perform the tracking without the need for the device password. All of this, of course, goes completely against the approach proposed by Apple and Google in tracking infections and, in fact, can be considered illegal; according to the company, however, there are cases in which unauthorized user tracking can be “legally justified” – and a global pandemic would be just one of those.

The fact is that, with legal support or not, at least seven other unlocking companies besides Cellebrite are promoting – and selling – similar solutions to health agencies around the world. Israel, for example, is already testing a global tracking system for its citizens based on the technology of one of these companies; the report of Reuters it also mentions business with countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

So let’s see what this is going to do.

More details about the partnership between Apple and Google

Much has been said about the partnership between Apple it’s the Google for the creation of API in fighting coronavirus, but we still didn’t have many details about the genesis of the union. Because that was exactly the focus of a new report published by CNBC.

According to the article, the idea for the initiative came from Edouard Bugnion, CTO of VMware and professor of engineering; he got in touch with Apple’s development department and was soon having conversations with a small group of engineers. Together, they realized that the company’s smartphones could represent a critical element in containing the pandemic, especially after countries began to relax their policies of social isolation.

Apple and Google logos

The development of the technology was one of the fastest in the company’s history: in less than a month, almost all the details of the idea were ready, and two top executives from Cupertino, Craig Federighi and Jeff Williams, were fully inserted in the project.

In the meantime, a Google team was also beginning to devise a similar strategy; from there, it was only a matter of time before the groups from Cupertino and Mountain View got in touch to carry out a collaborative action. At the end of March, Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai, CEOs of both companies, signed the agreement in a virtual meeting.

According to the report, companies are now planning to launch the first version of the tracking API this Friday (May 1) – a few days after the previously announced date.

Maps showing COVID-19 testing locations in the United States

Finally, as announced at the beginning of the month, Apple started displaying in the Maps app the COVID-19 testing sites – but only in the US, for now.

COVID-19 testing location on Apple Maps

It is possible to find the locations through the service search field or simply by browsing the map: the testing centers are marked by a red pin with a white asterisk. When you touch one of the testing locations, the application provides information about opening hours, phone, website and whether it is necessary to have a prescription or appointment to perform the test.

It is now rooted for the Apple to expand the resource to more countries.

via MacRumors, Cult of Mac, Engadget