KW 51: New functions for Germany’s Covid warning app, Study shows public opinion about Smart Home providers, Google app enables communication only through eyes


New functions for Germany’s Covid warning app: The new version 1.9.1 of the German coronavirus warning app has been available since Tuesday. From now on, users of the app will be able to see the number of days they have been exposed to risk encounters. However, the display of the number of risk encounters is no longer included. In addition, users whose app signals an increased risk can now also see the date of the last risk contact. Further data such as the exact time of the contact or the indication of location data are still not visible. Recently, there had been increased criticism of the supposedly insufficient capabilities of the warning app.

Study shows public opinion about Smart Home providers: Which Smart Home provider is most popular and has the best reputation in Germany? The study “Excellent Smart Home Provider”, carried out by the Institute for Management and Economic Research IMWF Hamburg, carried out research on behalf of “Focus Money” and examined public opinion on 1,700 companies. According to this, people attribute a particularly high level of competence to the “computers and accessories” industry. Dell has the best reputation in this branch, followed by hp and Asus. The services provided by insurers in the Smart Home sector are also highly valued. This is where Basler Versicherung, which offers a „cyber clause“ in its home insurance, does best. For the analysis, public posts on the internet were scoured for a year and evaluated in the categories of innovation, quality and price-performance ratio and assigned to individual companies.

Google app enables communication only through eyes: The newly developed Google app “Look to Speak” is now also available for download in German. It is particularly aimed at people with physical and acoustic limitations. The app is meant to work on a mobile device and in support of more sophisticated assistive technologies. After positioning the phone slightly below eye level, a user looks left or right to choose from the list of phrases, which the device then speaks aloud. The phrases can be personalized to let users share their authentic voices. According to Google, all data in the „Look to Speak“ app is private and never leaves the phone.,

Data protection: Apps now mandatory with “package insert”: The software developer and technology giant Apple now obliges developers to equip their applications with an “package insert”, a so-called “privacy label”, if they want to offer them via the Apple store. This should enable users to see at a glance which data and information the application collects from them. The data protection regulation should also apply to updates to existing apps. Specifically, the “package insert” is intended to break down three different categories of data that are collected: tracking data, data that is assigned to the user and data that is not assigned to him.

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According to a study by the Hamburg-based market research institute Splendid Research, 18 percent of people who have Smart Home applications in Germany use their full potential. The authors of the study understand this to mean that different applications are linked by the user to form a more or less complex system.


In lockdown: Smart sports competitions are booming: During the Covid pandemic, virtual sports competitions that can be held within people’s own four walls are booming. Whether running or cycling: platforms that offer such digital competitions enjoyed enormous popularity in 2020. Professional athletes like the triathlete Jan Frodeno have long been making use of the digital offers. Industry leader Swift now has over a million registered athletes. Famous real routes and stages can be completed by amateur athletes on the in-house treadmill or home trainer. Over the summer, even the TV broadcaster Eurosport broadcast virtual cycling races live. The potential is far from being exhausted.

Underestimated dangers for Smart Cities: More and more cities and municipalities are recognizing the potential of Smart City initiatives and trying out ways to turn into the city of the future. But with networking, the threats increase and the susceptibility to errors grows – this is something that consumers and administrators should be aware of. Many IoT systems do not yet offer default security. Communication between devices and systems must also be encrypted to ensure security. In addition, measures for the logical security of sensors and devices must be introduced if they are in public spaces. The biggest hurdles, however, are the lack of coordination between those involved in the Smart City project. If these points are not considered and repeatedly evaluated, they offer hackers numerous avoidable attack options.

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„Many new fields of activity have arisen for the skilled trades around the topic of Smart Home, for example when it comes to the installation and maintenance of electrics, heating or air conditioning technology. But the area of security also offers great potential for the trade.“
Dr. Sebastian Klöß, Bitkom’s Smart Home expert, sees great potential for the craft in the field of Smart Homes.


Philosopher calls for reduced data protection in Covid app: A proposal by philosopher Julian Nida-Rümelin in the talk show „Anne Will“ caused a stir and revealed a polarized debate about setting priorities in the fight against the pandemic. In the face of the successful fight against pandemics in some East Asian countries, especially Taiwan, Nida-Rümelin suggested adding more functions to the German government’s Covid warning app. Citizens would have to make their personal data available to the authorities to a much greater extent in order to be able to return to normal as quickly as possible. Fundamental rights would have to be weighed against each other. To this end, it is conceivable to decide on reduced data protection for a limited period by April 2021. The talk show guests who listened to this idea were skeptical.

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