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Why Bespoke Contact Tracing Apps Don’t Work so Well on iOS

21st May 2020 | Permalink

Kane Cheshire:

While Apple and Google work on a new cross-platform contact tracing API to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re starting to see some countries release bespoke apps built using just the existing Bluetooth APIs on each platform.

What we’re quickly seeing in the media about these solutions is that the iOS app has some limitations while in the background (i.e. not the visible and active app), and as a result the creators of these apps are often recommending people leave the iOS app in the foreground, or that they work better if Android devices are nearby.

A great explanation on why contact tracing apps don’t work that well on iOS, and at a much higher level of detail than most publications have been reporting.

I would also say, that even if you’re not interested in the context around contract tracing, you can get a really good understanding on how Bluetooth works in general on iOS apps.

Twitter Starts Testing a Feature That Limits Who Can Reply to Your Tweets

20th May 2020 | Permalink

Suzanne Xie, writing at the Twitter Product Blog:

Twitter is where you go to see and talk about what’s happening. But sometimes, unwanted replies make it hard to have meaningful conversations. (Ahem, reply guys.) Since last year, we’ve been working to give people more control over their conversations starting with the ability to hide replies. We also began trying out new ways to start conversations with casual, fleeting thoughts. And now, we’re testing new settings that let you choose who can reply to your Tweet and join your conversation.

Twitter also posted a short video showing off how the feature would work:

So tweets will (for the small percentage of users that can access the feature) have three options regarding who can reply: everyone, only people you follow, or only people you mention in the tweet. That seems to make sense, and they are probably the most common options you’d want if you wanted to limit replies.

It does seem slightly odd though, in that you would be able to have a public Twitter profile that no-one can reply to. However, as soon as you mention someone in a tweet, they can reply, since that’s allowed on all three options. SO at least you won’t be able to troll people, and at the same time stop them from replying.

Well, no matter happens with this idea, I’m personally all for Twitter experimenting with features such as this. And also the mentioned “fleeting tweets” idea, that interesting me as well. Surely one’s going to stick eventually?


Update: Since seeing a thread between Twitter and NASA, the benefits of this feature have clicked my head. Since you’ll be able to limit who replies to each tweet, your threads can stay perfectly clean!

The Largest Ever Ozone Hole Over the Arctic Has Now Healed

20th May 2020 | Permalink

Back in early April, it was announced that CAMS1 was tracking a record-breaking hole in the ozone above the Arctic:

Ozone columns over large parts of the Arctic have reached record-breaking low values this year, and the ozone layer over the Arctic is severely depleted at altitudes of around 18 km. The last time similarly strong chemical ozone depletion was observed over the Arctic was during spring 2011, and ozone depletion in 2020 seems on course to be even stronger.

The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS*) has been closely following the rather unusual ozone hole that has formed over the Arctic this spring.

In late April, they then shared on Twitter that the hole had healed.

People were then assuming that this had something to do with the lockdowns happening all over the world because of COVID-19. However, they say that the lockdown probably had no effect on this and that it was due to an unusually strong and long-lived Polar Vortex.

Either way, it seemed like a pretty interesting thing to read about, so I thought I’d share. And I think I’m going to start following them on Twitter, as they seem to share a lot of intriguing bits of data.


  1. The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service. Which is implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts on behalf of the European Commission. 

How I Use Todoist To Organise My Life

20th May 2020 | Permalink

Greg Morris, on how he uses Todoist:

So. No apologies here, but I ripped off this idea directly from Matt Birchler’s write-up on his Things setup. Even though he is a strong believer in the ability of Things, and also everyone in the replies seems to think the Todoist design is trash, I think very much that we have the same outlook on GTD. The basis of this revolves around “offloading your brain” so you can focus on other things.

I never set levels of tasks that I HAVE to get done each day, but I DO aim to get 3 main things ticked off each working day. This set up has been how I get everything done daily and also why I forget loads of meaningless stuff. This isn’t a GTD set up, but it’s my set up and it all starts with the Inbox.

Greg’s use of Todoist really fascinates me. He combines a general inbox, with the daily task of sorting them, and on top of that, it looks like he has a very intentional structure. Which is the part that I like the most because if you can understand why someone did something, it’s much easier to see if you can use that information to improve upon something of your own.

There’s also a ton of stuff that Greg talks about, that I just didn’t know was possible in Todoist. For example, you can link to emails from an item, which I imagine would be very handy, and also the new Upcoming screen looks like it would be very beneficial.


Not long after sharing his Todoist setup, Greg also wrote another post, “Cracking the Todoist Code“, where he goes over the natural language support, and how you can bring it all together:

Since sharing my Todoist set up and how I get things done loads of people have given me some ideas and shared their experience. One of which I wanted to try to help out with, and that is the natural language input. This feels amazingly natural to me, but for some feels like a bit of a code — so let’s crack it together.

Monzo Business for Web

20th May 2020 | Permalink

Monzo, announcing some very decent updates to their web interface for business accounts:

When we launched business accounts earlier this year, we introduced Monzo Business for Web to let you access your account from the convenience of your desktop as well as your mobile. You can choose what works best for you and your business, depending on where you are and what you need to do.

Since then, we’ve been working to let you do even more on the web, to make managing your finances with Monzo Business even more seamless – and here are the first of those updates!

You’ll now be able to see each account and pot, transaction history, move money around, export transaction data, receipt attachments, and a new design. They also say that the next things coming to the web interface are build payments, and having access control for other team members that you want to be able to see/perform certain actions.

Monzo Business

(Image credit: Monzo)

It’s not exactly a replica of the capabilities that Monzo has in their mobile apps, and it probably never will. But it’s certainly beneficial to have a web interface for various different reasons. The one I have in my head is if you lose your phone, that’s a tough situation if it’s the way you manage your money.

So I would definitely take a simple web interface for personal accounts. Although, right now they don’t have any plans to do this.

Coronavirus: Serco Apologises for Sharing Contact Tracers’ Email Addresses

20th May 2020 | Permalink

Ross Hawkins, writing for BBC News:

Outsourcing firm Serco has apologised after accidentally sharing the email addresses of almost 300 contact tracers.

The company is training staff to trace cases of Covid-19 for the UK government.

It made the error when it emailed new trainees to tell them about training.

Serco said it had apologised and would review its processes “to make sure that this does not happen again”.

It seems like this is a simple case of someone not knowing how email works, and has either put all 300 addresses in the ‘To’ or ‘CC’ field.

Supporting Well-Being With Guides on Instagram

19th May 2020 | Permalink

Instagram Blog:

We want Instagram to be a place where you can easily find reliable information and inspiration from your favorite accounts. That’s why we are introducing Guides, a way to more easily discover recommendations, tips and other content from your favorite creators, public figures, organizations and publishers on Instagram.

We know many people are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so we are first focusing Guides on wellness content. We’ll enable creators to connect with expert organizations to share resources during this time, including tips on how to look after your well-being, maintaining connection with others or managing anxiety or grief. To view a Guide, visit the profile of participating creators or organizations like @afspnational, @heads_together, @vitaalere, @klicksafe, @headspace_aus, @deepikapadukone, @sudahdong and @eenfance. Then, tap the middle icon to view their Guides. In the coming days, you’ll also be able to access Guides within the Explore tab.

Instagram Guides

(Image Credit: Instagram)

I’m not into this type of content myself, but I am intrigued by the idea of having guides on Instagram in general.

There could be a whole host of ways that the medium could be used, and it would be very beneficial to have that kind of content on Instagram. Seeing as it will certainly mean more people spending their time in the app.

Interestingly, the Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, tweeted alongside the announcement with the fact that the feature was originally designed with the idea of travel in mind. Which is what I’d expect to be a very popular use case for such a feature. However, since the pandemic happened, they pivoted quickly to adapt it to the wellness market.

BBC Launches Tool for Joint Lockdown Viewing

19th May 2020 | Permalink

BBC News – Entertainment & Arts:

If you’ve been wishing you could enjoy a TV or radio show with friends during lockdown, the BBC is trialling a tool to allow just that.

BBC Together lets you watch or listen to content from BBC iPlayer, Sounds, Bitesize, News and Sport in sync with other people using different devices.

It is available through the BBC’s experimental website Taster.

BBC R&D’s Dr Libby Miller said being separate “doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy great programmes with our friends”.

She added: “We wanted to see if technology could bring people together to watch and listen to BBC shows remotely as a shared experience.”

The “host” of the group can send a link from the BBC Together site, then control when to play and pause so everyone sees the same thing at the same time. A maximum number of 50 people can join.

I’ve heard about this type of platform before, where groups of people in different locations can watch videos or listen to music together. So it’s good to see BBC experimenting with adding support directly inside iPlayer.

Check out BBC Together.

Apple Glass Rumoured To Start at $499 with Support for Prescription Lenses

19th May 2020 | Permalink

Joe Rossignol, writing for MacRumors:

Front Page Tech host and leaker Jon Prosser today shared several alleged details about Apple’s rumored augmented reality glasses, including an “Apple Glass” marketing name, $499 starting price, prescription lens option, and more.

  • The marketing name will be “Apple Glass”
  • The glasses will start at $499 with the option for prescription lenses at an extra cost
  • There will be displays in both lenses that can be interacted with using gestures
  • The glasses will rely on a paired iPhone, similar to the original Apple Watch
  • An early prototype featured LiDAR and wireless charging
  • Apple originally planned to unveil the glasses as a “One More Thing” surprise at its iPhone event in the fall, but restrictions on in-person gatherings could push back the announcement to a March 2021 event
  • Apple is targeting a late 2021 or early 2022 release

This product has been rumoured for years now, and it’s interesting to hear that they were apparently planned to be announced this year along side the next iPhone announcement. So they’re starting to feel like a possibility.

I used to think that this was a product that I would avoid. But to be honest, if they do cost around $499, and I can get my prescription lenses, then I think I would get them.


You can watch Jon’s video from his Front Page Tech channel to hear the rumours directly.

Getting Work Done on an iPad Pro

19th May 2020 | Permalink

Andy Nicolaides:

Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a completely different answer to the age old question of: ‘Can you get real work done on an iPad?’ I’m not here to answer that question for you, but I have moved my own use case for my beloved iPad Pro to the next level recently, and I wanted to share a few thoughts about the software, and hardware, that has helped me along the way.

I always find it interesting to hear people talk about how they use their devices, because there’s usually a bit of experience that you can use for yourself. So I found it useful to hear about his use-case for Agenda, as I’ve started using that myself in the past few days.