COVID-19 tracking app to DIY hand-washing timer

A COVID-19 tracking app has proven an overnight hit in the UK, with the medical researchers behind it hoping to bring it to the US too.

The app allows people to self-report coronavirus symptoms, and the app then logs the date, time, and location to help medical professionals identify potential hotspots …

COVID-19 tracking app and website

TechCrunch reports.

We know that more ventilators and beds will be needed, but where specifically are the outbreaks happening and how can those local areas be served better?

An app in the U.K. called the C-19 COVID Symptom Tracker, developed out of an unlikely corner of medical research — looking into the progression of medical conditions by tracking twins — is asking people to self-report their symptoms in an effort to start to gather more of that detail […]

[It has now] gone viral, with 750,000 downloads since being launched on Tuesday morning. The app now is the third most popular app overall in the UK on the Apple App Store, and the number-one in the medical category, according to figures from App Annie.

The team had already been working with researchers at at Massachusetts General Hospital and Stanford, so the plan now is to bring the COVID-19 tracking app to the US.

CNBC reports that volunteers from Apple, Google and Amazon have already created a website designed to do the same job.

Zoom and Slack see record use

With so many people now working from home, popular remote-working apps are seeing record usage.

Crain’s reports that popular videoconferencing app Zoom – which seems to have become the default video meetup app for social as well as work purposes – has seen demand more than double, with a significant bump to its share price.

Recent data from Sensor Tower have shown “big upticks across the board” for mobile-app downloads for work-from-home services. Zoom’s app had download growth of 109%, according to the data […]

Shares spiked as much as 22%, trading almost twice its daily average volume, in their biggest one-day percentage gain since June 2019. The stock is up more than 40% over the six days, and it has more than doubled this year, with recent gains coming on signs of higher usage.

The Verge reports that business-focused chat app Slack has hit record usage levels.

Slack is revealing today that it has hit new user records for simultaneously connected users, thanks to a surge in demand for remote working amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday March 10th, Slack saw concurrent users pass 10 million, which then jumped to 10.5 million six days later on March 16th before reaching 12.5 million yesterday.

Microsoft, meantime, has a press event scheduled for Monday which is expected to include a consumer-focused version of its business chat platform, Teams.

Global smartphone sales fell 14% in February

Counterpoint estimates that global smartphone sales fell 14% last month, with a much bigger fall likely this month, reports Reuters.

Global smartphone sales tumbled 14% in February as the coronavirus spread in China and overseas, Counterpoint Research said on Thursday, a likely harbinger of more declines as outbreaks worsen in many parts of the world.

Hertz and Lyft help out US health workers

The WSJ reports that Hertz is giving free car rental to health workers in NYC. Only 20% of its cars are in use, compared to the usual 80%, so it has plenty of capacity.

Hertz–awash in idle rental cars as the travel industry grinds to a halt from the coronavirus outbreak—is offering free rental vehicles to help health-care workers get to their jobs.

Hertz said it will begin the program this week in New York City, which has emerged as the epicenter of the nation’s Covid-19 outbreak.

Lyft is doing the same thing with bicycle rentals in three cities, notes Engadget.

Lyft is offering free, 30-day bike-share passes to critical workers in New York City, Chicago and Boston. This should help people who still have to get to work during the coronavirus pandemic, and to keep them safe, Lyft says it is ramping up its cleaning efforts.

In New York City, Lyft will provide hospital workers, first responders and transit workers with a free, one-month Citi Bike membership […] In Boston, Lyft’s Bluebikes is offering hospital workers a free 30-day membership, and in Chicago, healthcare workers have access to free rides on the city’s Divvy bikes through April 30th.

DIY Spotify soap dispenser

Finally, if you’re tired of singing Happy Birthday twice while washing your hands, the obvious way of timing your handwashes would be ‘Hey Siri, set a timer for 20 seconds.’

But why do things the easy way when you could instead build your own gadget?

Scrubber is your hand-washing soundtrack— 20 seconds of music selected right from your most played Spotify tracks of the week, played through a DIY sudsy soundsystem. When you press down on the soap pump, you’ll hear your favorite jams coming right out of the dispenser as a way to time hygienic hand-washing. All you need is a soap dispenser, a Spotify account, and a few common electronic parts.

In addition to the soap dispenser of your choice, you’ll need a Raspberry Pi W Zero, an Adafruit Speaker bonnet, a few inches of wire, and a tiny bit of copper tape.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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