Technological World for October 6, consumer tech: Portpass app fail, Wendy's Phones, new Surface devices from Microsoft

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Calgary developed Portpass may have exposed user’s private information, Wendy’s Canada made a smartphone, and Microsoft’s six new Surface devices.

Portpass app allegedly exposed personal information of users

An app used by people to show their vaccination status may not have properly secured the information of its users. As of Wednesday afternoon (October 6), more tha a week after the issue was raised, Portpass and its web-based app were still offline.

The private, Calgary-based company told CBC Calgary journalist Sarah Rieger that more than 650,000 people across Canada had registered. This claim has not been verified.

Rieger reported last Tuesday that CBC had accessed the profiles of users of Portpass and viewed personal information and “photos of identification like driver’s licences and passports”.

Photos accompanying the story suggested that an image of a Nexus card was also accessed.

In June, Portpass CEO Zak Hussein told Global News that, “No one sees what’s on the app. The user controls what information is on the app.”

The concern for people who signed up for the service is how they can delete their accounts given that Portpass has gone offline.

While many provincial governments have created their own web apps to allow citizens to show vaccination status, Alberta has not.

This is particularly interesting given what EU digital policy maker Margrethe Vestager said at the Code conference this week about the GDPR and privacy.

How you can win one of 20 Wendy’s Phones

Wendy’s, the fast food chain, has released a new mobile app. To celebrate, the company is giving away 20 Wendy’s Phones, red Android handsets that have been tweaked to reflect the restaurant’s brand.

The devices come preloaded with the mobile app, of course, as well as a digital assistant, Wendy.

You can win one of the 20 handsets by entering a Twitter contest before October 17.

Six new Surface devices announced by Microsoft

In an online event last week, Microsoft revealed a number of new devices that are joining the Surface portfolio, including a new foldable smartphone.

The most exciting of them, for me, is the Surface Laptop Studio (starting at CDN$2,050). This computer was designed with creatives in mind. It’s got a 14-inch touchscreen that is built to transition to a drawing tablet or a display. It’s even got a place on the device where you can nestle a Surface Slim Pen stylus to charge.

The Surface Pro 8 (starting at $1,400) is a powerful two-in-one device that marks a major upgrade from the previous Surface Pro. It’s got a better screen with support for up to 120 Hz refresh and is equipped with two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports. It also has built-in charging for the Slim Pen 2.

Availability of the Surface Duo 2 ($1,900) in Canada is as yet unknown; the product page at Microsoft Canada’s website lists it as “coming soon”.

But assuming it does get to Canada, this Android mobile device, with support for 5G connectivity, is by far the most interesting folding handset out there.

Other devices announced include the consumer availability of the Surface Pro 7+, the Wi-Fi-only version of the Surface Pro X, and the Surface Go 3.

Microsoft has also updated the Surface stylus, the Slim Pen 2 ($170) has improved haptics and was designed to be charged and stored with the new Surface notebooks.

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