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By Usman Khan Lodhi
Snapchat now lets users scan food and wine labels
by Usman Khan Lodhi
The Scan feature on Snapchat is pretty helpful, as it lets users identify songs playing in the background, courtesy of a partnership with Shazam, roughly 400 breeds of dogs, and 90% of "all known plants and trees".
Now, Snapchat is adding support for food and wine labels to its visual search lineup, with the app's in-app camera now being able to scan packaged food and wine labels to surface information regarding the product. The feature should work like other standalone food and wine apps, which display nutritional details when barcodes are scanned via the camera.
Snapchat's Nutrition Scanner, powered by Yuka, will let users scan about one million food products, and display ratings on the quality of ingredients in many packaged foods. The rating is based on the product's basic nutritional content, presence of additives, and its organic nature. Information about 12 million types of wine labels has been taken from Vivino, an online wine marketplace.
Last week, Snapchat also added the ability to add music to Snaps for iOS users and said it was working on letting users create custom sounds to add to their stories.
By Abhay V
Google working to let health apps integrate with Assistant for easier health tracking
by Abhay Venkatesh
A recent teardown of the beta version of the Google app on Android has revealed strings that suggest that Google might be working to integrate health apps with the Assistant. The company aims to let users easily access tracked sleep data and other health-related information right from the assistant through voice commands.
The term “sleep_account_linking” and corresponding descriptions suggest that users will be able to choose to integrate their health service accounts to the Assistant and receive responses about sleep quality and other such queries on the app and on Assistant-enabled speakers that have personal results turned on. Health services can include apps like Fitbit that collates data from fitness trackers.
Additionally, the content found in the teardown also suggests that the Assistant will be able to automatically provide data and health suggestions for those that have “proactive health and fitness results”. The description of the feature also suggests that users’ audio queries will be deleted after the request is completed. However, text from the query might be used to “troubleshoot, develop, and improve Assistant services”. Those that want to stop receiving any of this information or suggestions can unlink their services from settings.
The addition of this feature will negate the need for users to navigate to specific health apps and manually check the desired metrics, proving to be useful for those that rely on such apps to keep a track of sleep patterns or other fitness-related goals. It will not be surprising to see Google-owned Fitbit be one of the first providers to integrate with the Assistant if the feature does make it to the app.
Microsoft will become ‘water positive' by 2030
by Paul Hill
Microsoft has announced that it plans to become ‘water positive’ by 2030. This means that it will replenish more water than it uses by putting water into stressed basins. It also plans to make water more accessible to underserved communities.
While a lot of companies have emphasised on switching to renewable energy, water usage has been somewhat overlooked, but it is still a vital part of climate change and health discussions. Microsoft plans to invest in projects such as wetland restoration and the removal of surfaces like asphalt to help replenish water in basins that most need it.
According to the firm, a basin is stressed if the amount of water withdrawn goes over 40% of the renewable supply. Of the 16,396 basins worldwide, 4,717 basins are classified as stressed. Microsoft’s efforts will focus on 40 highly stressed basins.
Discussing how the private sector can act to help the water situation, Microsoft’s President Brad Smith said:
Aside from helping to replenish water, Microsoft wants to ensure that people can access it safely for drinking and sanitation. It will partner with NGOs to accomplish this and will ultimately ensure 1.5 million people get access to water. It will partner with Water.org at first to help underserved communities in Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Mexico. It will then expand to work with partners in China, Malaysia, and South Africa.
By Hamza Jawad
Microsoft extends cloud-based health alliance with Allscripts
by Hamza Jawad
Last month, Microsoft unveiled a five-year deal with John Hopkins Medicine, centered around Azure. A few weeks before that, the tech giant launched Cloud for Healthcare, its first industry-specific cloud offering. Now, in a further move combining the power of cloud with the healthcare industry, Microsoft has announced a five-year extension to its strategic alliance with Allscripts.
The partnership, which undertakes the development of cloud-based health IT solutions, will now support Allscripts' cloud-based Sunrise electronic health record as well. Sunrise is described as an "integrated EHR that connects all aspects of care, including acute, ambulatory, surgical, pharmacy, radiology and laboratory services including an integrated revenue cycle and patient administration system". Microsoft is now the cloud provider for the aforementioned solution.
Paul Black, Allscripts CEO, commented on the significance of this partnership under the global pandemic situation, noting:
Microsoft will not only be providing Allscripts the ability to utilize the Azure platform, but more of its services such as Teams and Power BI as well as part of this renewed alliance.
Samsung partners with fitness brands to bring apps to its TVs
by Paul Hill
Samsung has announced that its smart TVs will begin to host wellness apps after it formed partnerships with a selection of brands including barre3, Calm, Echelon, Fitplan, Jillian Michaels Fitness, and obé Fitness. While the services will become part of Samsung Health later in the year, they’ve been made available now to help people that are stuck at home due to COVID-19.
Commenting on the news, Salek Brodsky, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Business Development for Samsung Electronics, said:
The apps vary by availability, here’s the list:
barre3 is available on 2018 and 2019 Samsung smart TVs in the U.S. and Canada. Fitplan is available on 2019 models in the U.S., Canada, UK, and Australia. Echelon FitPass is available on TVs from 2018 and 2019 in the U.S., Canada, UK, and Australia. Jillian Michaels Fitness is available on 2018 and 2019 TVs in the U.S., Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. obé is available on 2018 and 2019 models in the U.S. and Canada. Calm is available on 2019 TVs in the U.S., Canada, UK, Korea, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Brazil, Portugal, UAE, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Morocco. All of the apps will be part of Samsung Health on 2020 models but availability is based on region. The apps that are being introduced focus on both body and mind so they should be quite helpful when it comes to people being shut-in their homes for extended periods.