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Archive for March 2020

The Rare-Look Edition Sunday, March 29, 2020

Apple Stores In China Offer A Glimpse Into An Alternate Timeline With New Artwork And iPad Pro Displays, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

On a brighter timeline, Apple Stores around the world are stocked with the brand new LiDAR-equipped iPad Pro and updated MacBook Air. In reality, every Apple Store outside of Greater China is closed indefinitely. The 52 stores that remain open now give a rare look into a global product launch that could have been.

Stuff

MacBook Air 2020 Review: The Most Boring Mac Is Among The Best, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Buy a MacBook Air if you want a Mac but sustained, heavy-duty performance isn’t what you need; get a MacBook Pro instead if you do need that kind of performance. But if macOS is negotiable, you might also consider the XPS 13, a Microsoft Surface device, or even an iPad Air or Pro.

So the new Air isn't "the world’s best laptop," as its predecessors were often called. It’s just a really good portable computer. But that’s not a criticism. I for one am grateful that there are so many appealing options out there now that it’s just about impossible for any laptop—even one this strong—to claim the title.

Apple's New Powerbeats Are OK, But Design Flaws Keep Them From Greatness, by Patrick Lucas Austin, Time

If you’re spending this much on headphones, you probably care about audio quality. Powerbeats delivers, sounding much better than most truly wireless options, including Apple’s AirPods. The bass is stronger and voices are clearer, though some might take issue with the sealed in-ear design for outdoors activities like running. Still, they sound great, and are as functional as the Powerbeats Pro, featuring capabilities like audio sharing when paired with an iPhone.

But the Powerbeats’ design is compromised in some frustrating ways. Every ear is different, but the Powerbeats don’t do enough to accommodate that variety. For me, the Powerbeats’ “adjustable” rubber hooks weren’t adjustable enough, and 10 minutes into my runs my ears would start to ache as they pressed against the rubber I had tugged and twisted on, only to have it slowly morph back into its uncomfortable original position.

Notes

Curse Words, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

Cursor is an overloaded term.

Why Are Music Streams Down If Everyone's Stuck At Home? Experts Weigh In, by Geoff Mayfield, Variety

While it might seem counterintuitive that music streams would decline at a time when so many Americans were ordered to stay home, data-savvy label executives were neither startled nor concerned by the 7.6% drop in plays that happened in the March 13-19 tracking week. Simply put, they say it’s down to focus on news and other televised options; the loss of daily commutes, where many people stream music; and multiple people at home together streaming the same things.

Amid Our Fear, We’re Rediscovering Utopian Hopes Of A Connected World, by Alan Rusbridger, The Guardian

If this is the worst of times, it is also the best of times. In our anxiety we are drawing deep reserves of strength from others. In our isolation we are rediscovering community. In our confusion we are rethinking whom we trust. In our fragmentation we are rediscovering the value of institutions.

To each their own narrative or metaphor. If this feels like the blitz spirit to you, all well and good. Others find it helps to imagine a world recast through virtual networks.

But what it amounts to is this: there is such a thing as society and we are all interdependent. And if it sometimes takes a grave crisis to remind ourselves of these truths, then this moment may well be historic for the possibilities of hope as well as for all the tragedy and turmoil.

The Trusted-Source Edition Saturday, March 28, 2020

Apple Releases Free COVID-19 App And Website, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Apple has launched a new app developed in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency called Apple COVID-19.

[...]

In addition to a coronavirus screening questionnaire, the app and website include other resources from trusted information sources.

Apple Announces Free Virtual Coaching Sessions And Training Library To Ease Transition To Distance Learning, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

As schools across the world adjust to distance learning, Apple has announced some new tools that aim to ease the transition to distance learning. Apple is announcing a free 30-minute one-on-one virtual coaching sessions with Apple Professional Learning Specialists and a new Apple Education remote learning video series.

Zoom Removes Code That Sends Data To Facebook, by Joseph Cox, Motherboard

“Zoom takes its users’ privacy extremely seriously. We originally implemented the ‘Login with Facebook’ feature using the Facebook SDK in order to provide our users with another convenient way to access our platform. However, we were recently made aware that the Facebook SDK was collecting unnecessary device data," Zoom told Motherboard in a statement on Friday.

Develop

I Don’t Care What Google Or Apple Or Whomever Did, by Adrian Roselli

Apple and Google get it wrong just as often as the rest of us. Their tendril-like presence in our everyday lives does not make them any better, and their people no worse.

Notes

What The Right To Repair Movement Gets Wrong, by G. Pascal Zachary, IEEE Spectrum

Rather than burden individuals with enhanced rights and duties for repair and maintenance of our devices, let’s demand that makers of digitally-controlled stuff make repairs at fair prices, quickly and reliably. Or maybe we go further and demand that these companies repair and maintain their products at a slight loss, or even a large loss, in order to incentivize them to design and build high-quality stuff in the first place; stuff that requires less maintenance and fewer repairs.

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I wish nothing will change after this, but I also wish everything to change after this.

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Thanks for reading.

The Encryption-Bypass Edition Friday, March 27, 2020

Unpatched iOS Bug Blocks VPNs From Encrypting All Traffic, by Sergiu Gatlan, Bleeping Computer

A currently unpatched security vulnerability affecting iOS 13.3.1 or later prevents virtual private network (VPNs) from encrypting all traffic and can lead to some Internet connections bypassing VPN encryption to expose users' data or leak their IP addresses.

While connections made after connecting to a VPN on your iOS device are not affected by this bug, all previously established connections will remain outside the VPN's secure tunnel as ProtonVPN disclosed.

Apple Says MacBook Air With Retina Display Can Exhibit Anti-Reflective Coating Issues, Unclear If Eligible For Free Repairs, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple this week acknowledged that MacBook Air models with Retina displays can exhibit anti-reflective coating issues, as indicated in a memo shared with Apple Authorized Service Providers and obtained by MacRumors.

"Retina displays on some MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro computers can exhibit anti-reflective (AR) coating issues," the memo states.

Zoom iOS App Sends Data To Facebook Even If You Don’t Have A Facebook Account, by Joseph Cox, Motherboard

The Zoom app notifies Facebook when the user opens the app, details on the user's device such as the model, the time zone and city they are connecting from, which phone carrier they are using, and a unique advertiser identifier created by the user's device which companies can use to target a user with advertisements

[...]

Zoom is not forthcoming with the data collection or the transfer of it to Facebook. Zoom's policy says the company may collect user's "Facebook profile information (when you use Facebook to log-in to our Products or to create an account for our Products)," but doesn't explicitly mention anything about sending data to Facebook on Zoom users who don't have a Facebook account at all.

Stuff

Apple Music Rolling Out Feature That Displays New Music Notifications From Favorite Artists In Your Library, by Mitchel Broussard, MacRumors

The new feature first appears as a splash page in ‌Apple Music‌ on iOS, telling users that they can "see new music from artists you like." This will let you get updates about new releases from artists you listen to, with notifications appearing above your library of albums and playlists.

CarPlay Dashboard Gets Third-party Maps Support In iOS 13.4, by Taylor Lyles, The Verge

The CarPlay dashboard displays information from multiple apps at once, like music and maps, which can help you get to your destination, but you could only use Apple Maps until now. Third-party map apps had to use a full-screen view instead of appearing as a split screen on the dashboard. With iOS 13.4, third-party apps can finally be made to work on the dashboard, too.

Moment Pro Camera iOS App Gets Big Update To Shoot Next-level Time-lapses, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

The headline change is a pro-level time-lapse feature that comes with granular control over interval and frame count, duration, exposure bracketing, the ability to include motion blur/light trails, and more.

Looom Brings Carefree Animation To iPad, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

When is the last time you drew something for fun? Projects for your job, assignments under a deadline, parts of a larger work — those can all be fun. But when is the last time you drew something just for the sake of drawing? Looom is a new iPad app that encourages imaginative drawing — no strings attached.

Develop

Apple Extends Developer Deadline For Various App Store Update Requirements Until June, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple had originally set a deadline of April 30 for requiring apps for iPhone and iPad be built with the iOS 13 SDK. In a new developer blog post today, however, Apple has extended that deadline and many others.

In order to “accommodate developers who may need additional time to update their existing apps on the App Store,” Apple has extended the April 30 deadline until June 30.

Apple Updates 'Apple Developer' App With New Video Features Ahead Of Digital WWDC, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Today's update introduces multiple playback speeds for watching videos, an option to interact with full video transcripts, and a feature for sharing stories from the Discover tab and viewing them on the web.

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It rained this afternoon while I am working (from home), and that sort-of brightened my day. Nature doesn't care what we are doing, what we are thinking, what we are afraid of. It will continue doing what it is doing.

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Thanks for reading.

The Make-Things Edition Thursday, March 26, 2020

Hipster Whale CEO Talks Apple Arcade, Crossy Road Castle And Industry Challenges, by Shelby Brown, CNET

Clara Reeves, CEO of Melbourne-based video game studio Hipster Whale, fell in love with programming when she realized it could be an art form. Reeves, who would go on to oversee Hipster Whale's popular game Crossy Road in its move to Apple's mobile gaming subscription service, Apple Arcade, never grew out of her childhood passion of building structures out of Legos and pursued a degree in fine arts.

"I was always mesmerized by games, but it took me a long time to say 'Hey, someone makes these things. Maybe I could make these things.'" Reeves said.

Never Buy Hardware Today Based On A Promise Of Software Tomorrow, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

I have no idea if LIDAR and the idea of pervasive AR that people access by holding up big tablets will become bets that pan out or not. Unlike some of Apple’s other bets, though, the only hassle the LIDAR causes is the size of the camera bump and the cost of the part.

Which means that while I don’t think Apple’s big AR push is a reason for anybody to go buy the new iPad Pro (unless you’re an AR developer, I guess), I also don’t think it’s a reason to avoid it.

So: buy the iPad Pro for the screen, the speed, the microphones, or because you really do think it can replace your laptop. Those are all good reasons. Just don’t buy it for the LIDAR — never buy hardware today based on a promise of software tomorrow.

The New iPad Pro Isn’t A Laptop Replacement. It’s Better Than That, by Jeremy White, Wired

It may be coming up to a decade since the iPad launched, but the signs this was going to happen to the iPad were clear for all to see right from when the likes of Brydge produced its first all-metal keyboard cases with the sole purpose of trying to morph the tablet into a laptop.

The iPad is not trying to replace existing laptops, it is trying to be a new kind of laptop. The trouble is it has taken ten years to get here. If only Apple would pick up the pace a little.

Healthy Practices in Limiting Times

How To Close Apple Watch Activity Rings Even When Sheltering In Place, by Leif Johnson, Macworld

A couple of things first. You’re likely still allowed to go outside and take walks on empty paths or in local parks. You can close your rings that way, but keep in mind that the risk of contagion goes down if everyone stays home. Second, you’re probably not going to have any trouble closing your rings if you have exercise equipment in your home—and more power to you if you do.

Some of you might recognize the suggestions below as variations on the “cheats” for gaming your activity rings that circulated when the Apple Watch first came out, but in 2020, I prefer to think of them more positively. Provided you don’t try to close your Move ring simply by swiping your arm back and forth while vegging out in an armchair—which is actually possible—these can serve as foundations for healthy practices in these limiting times.

Wish List: Activity Pause For Apple Watch, by Dan Moren, Six Colors

It’d be great to see a feature of this sort in watchOS 7 or, hey, sooner. Apple should at the very least consider letting you temporarily mute the Activity reminders for a preset amount of time. Because we all want to be getting out more—it just may not be our fault if we can’t.

Stuff

2020 MacBook Air Teardown Reveals New Keyboard And Better Repairability, by Buster Hein, Cult of Mac

Opening up the 2020 MacBook Air revealed a few key differences from the 2018 model. There’s a larger heatsink over the processor. Speakers are now secured using screws instead of glue, and there’s a new cable configuration between the logic board and trackpad.

The new cable configuration means the trackpad can be removed as soon as you pop off the back cover. It also speeds up the process to remove the battery and lets the logic board stay in place.

macOS 10.15.4 Brings Enhanced HDR Support, Custom Reference Modes For Pro Display XDR, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

After updating to 10.15.4, users with monitors that support high dynamic range —or HDR —will now see a checkbox within the Display section of System Preferences. Ticking this box will automatically adjust the display to show high dynamic range content.

Arcade Highlights: Crossy Road Castle, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Crossy Road Castle is a long-awaited sequel to the original Crossy Road and one of the newest Apple Arcade titles. But don’t let the word ‘sequel’ mislead you – Crossy Road Castle offers an entirely different gaming experience than its predecessor. Think less “crossing the road” and more “climbing an endless tower, one micro-level at a time.”

Gameplay feels much like a Super Mario Bros.-style platformer, but with characters like Unihorse and Mallard replacing the mustached plumbers. If you’re high on the Nintendo nostalgia, there are even stages with barrels to shoot out of, DKC-style.

Notes

Apple Will Donate 10M Face Masks To Healthcare Workers, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

“Apple has sourced, procured and is donating 10 million masks to the medical community in the United States,” Cook says in the video. “These people deserve our debt of gratitude for all of the work they’re doing on the front lines.”

[...]

Apple is joining fellow tech companies in donating masks amid a national shortage as COVID-19 takes an increasing toll on the U.S. population. Many of the donated masks have been stockpiled, in order to adhere to California Occupational Safety and Health Standards put into action following last year’s devastating wildfires.

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I am now working from home. And instead of waking up later because of the shorter commute time, I opt to wake up daily at the same time, and go for a long walk instead.

Together with my daily happy tea, I am certaininly hoping my mind will not wander to places it shouldn't wander about.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Cursor-Support Edition Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Apple Releases iOS And iPadOS 13.4 With iPad Cursor Support And Keyboard Improvements, iCloud Drive Shared Folders, And More, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Timed with the release of the latest iPad Pro models, the hallmark features include brand new systemwide support for mouse and trackpad on iPad, plus a handful of external keyboard enhancements. Shared folders for iCloud Drive is the other big addition – first announced at WWDC last June then delayed out of the initial 13.0 release, iCloud users may finally be able to consider reducing their Dropbox dependency. Beyond those highlights, Apple has also included smaller OS tweaks in a variety of areas.

Apple Debuts Shared iPad For Business, Assessment Mode For Mac, Custom School Apps, And More, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

Previously only available in Apple School Manager, Shared iPad for Business Shared iPad enables businesses to share devices between multiple employees, while still providing a personalized experience. Employees sign in with a Managed Apple ID to begin loading their data. The user then has their own Mail accounts, their own files, iCloud Photo Library, app data, and more. The data for the employee is stored in iCloud, so employees can sign in to any Shared iPad that belongs to the organization.

The data on the iPad cached so employees can choose from a list of recent users to quickly get back to their personalized setup. There is also a temporary session that allows for any user to sign in without an account, and their data is erased when they sign out.

Apple Releases macOS Catalina 10.15.4 With iCloud Drive Folder Sharing, Apple Music Time-synced Lyrics, More, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

The Music app on macOS Catalina 10.15.4 now offers the same time-synced lyrics feature that came to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac last year. This feature allows you to follow along with a song in real-time. In prior versions of macOS, you could access plaintext lyrics, but this time-synced feature takes things to the next level.

Today’s update also allows users to share folders on the iCloud Drive, something that was previously available in earlier beta versions of macOS Catalina and iOS 13, but Apple has removed it from the final release for some unknown reason.

Best iPad Yet

The 2020 iPad Pros, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

If you already have a 2018 iPad Pro, the only reason to even consider upgrading is if you’re somehow professionally involved with AR, or if you make serious use of your iPad camera. These are not new iPad Pros so much as tweaked iPad Pros. And the best part of holding onto a 2018 iPad Pro is that the upcoming Magic Keyboards are fully compatible with those models. Keep your 2018 iPad Pro and wait for the keyboard.

If you don’t have a 2018 iPad Pro, I can recommend these new iPad Pros with no reservations. Everything I wrote about the 2018 iPad Pros still stands. Rumors abound that Apple might release a more significant iPad Pro update at the end of the year, perhaps only in the 12.9-inch size. If you want to wait, wait, but waiting for rumored future products is a good way to tie yourself in knots and wind up waiting forever. If you need a new iPad now, these are the best iPads Apple has ever made, and arguably the best portable computers Apple has ever made, period.

Apple iPad Pro Review 2020: Small Spec Bump, Big Camera Bump, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

I started this review by talking about the tension between iPads. The core of that tension is that for most people, the iPad Pro is overkill. Unless you’re quite sure what you are going to do with these cameras, that LIDAR, or the faster processor, chances are you’d be equally served by the much-less expensive iPad Air — or even the base iPad. Neither of those iPads is as nice from a hardware perspective. But if you don’t need the extra power, saving hundreds of dollars is also nice.

iPad Pro Is The Best iPad Yet. Does It Matter?, by Lauren Goode, Wired

As much as I’ve used the iPad over the past five days, there were plenty of things I couldn’t test—like how the microphones fared in crowded, noisy environments, or how well the ultra-wide rear camera captured photos of large groups of friends. I didn’t sit and do work on it from a coffee shop, I couldn’t travel with the iPad on a train or airplane to give it a good lap test or see how it fared while it was smushed against a seat back. I quickly grew disinterested in AR apps within the confines of my small home.

These are interesting times.

Cursory Fun

Who Would Have Thought An iPad Cursor Could Be So Much Fun?, by Craig Mod, Wired

I've been using the trackpad with my 2018 11-inch iPad Pro for the last four days, and I can't stop smiling. It's a boneheaded response, I know—to be delighted by something that feels so obvious and, many would say, regressive. But paths matter. And what's so strange about all of this is the multiple layers of redundancy you find on an iPad. You don't need the keyboard to type, you can type on the screen. You don't need the trackpad to navigate, you can pick up the Pencil and do the same. And if you lose that Pencil, who cares? The OS was designed potato-first, and so your dirty digits will work just fine. A bare iPad is like Monty Python's Black Knight; no arms, no legs, but the brain still works.

Thankfully, it's easy to snap all these pieces back on. And I'm glad the trackpad, along with its beautiful, playful new cursor, is now part of the package.

In Praise Of The iPadOS 13.4 Cursor, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Apple didn’t just copy Mac cursor support and paste it into iPadOS with version 13.4. This is a careful, considered set of additions that rethink what a cursor should look like. And apparently it should look like an adorable round sticky color-changing blob.

Stuff

Apple Supporting At-Home Education With New Series Of Remote Learning Videos, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

With schools closed in many countries due to the current pandemic, teachers and parents alike are navigating the new reality of educating students from home. To help with this, Apple has launched a new series of videos designed to help schools and educators use built-in features of their Apple devices like the iPad to enable remote learning.

New Safari Updates Support Full Third-party Cookie Blocking, More, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

Cookies for cross-site resources are now blocked by default across the board. The WebKit team says this is a significant improvement for privacy since it removes any sense of exceptions or “a little bit of cross-site tracking is allowed.”

Apple Card Gets Updated Privacy Policy On New Data Sharing And More Transaction Detail, by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

Apple is updating its privacy policy for Apple Card to enable sharing more anonymized data with Goldman Sachs, its financial partner. Apple’s reasoning here is that this will make it able to do a better job of assigning credit to new customers.

The data is aggregate and anonymized, and there is an opt-out for new customers.

Develop

Apple Releases ARKit 3.5 To Take Advantage Of iPad Pro LiDAR Scanner, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Along with iOS 13.4 and iPadOS 13.4, Apple has released ARKit 3.5 to let developers take advantage of the new LiDAR Scanner in the new iPad Pro. The latest ARKit release features Scene Geometry, Instant AR, and improved Motion Capture and People Occlusion.

Notes

Apple May Start Reopening Stores In First Half Of April, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. expects to start re-opening its retail stores in the first half of April on a staggered basis and has extended remote work abilities for many employees through at least April 5.

Singapore Says It Will Make Its Contact Tracing Tech Freely Available To Developers, by Saheli Roy Choudhury, CNBC

Phones that have the app installed exchange short-distance Bluetooth signals when their users are near one another. Records of those encounters, including the duration, are stored in their respective phones for 21 days, according to the app’s frequently asked questions section. It added that location data is not collected.

If a user is diagnosed with COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, they could allow Singapore’s health ministry to access their app data to identify people who had close contact with the infected individual.

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I am enjoying the new Apple Music's Get Up! Mix -- not to wake me up in the morning, but to wake me up after my lunch and going back to work.

Now, I am wishing for another Apple Music Mix to make me forget about work in the evening.

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Thanks for reading.

The Single-Purchase Edition Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Apple Officially Rolls Out Universal Purchase Support For Mac And iOS Apps, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple has announced that it is officially launching the ability for developers to sell Mac and iOS apps as a single purchase. Apple first detailed these plans back in February, teasing that the functionality would roll out to developers in March.

Apple Slaps Up To 10% Price Increase On Built-to-Order Mac Configurations In Many Countries, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

In Canada, Europe, Australia, and many parts of Asia, customers configuring any new ‌MacBook Air‌, MacBook Pro, iMac, iMac Pro, Mac Pro or Mac mini now face paying approximately 10 percent more for each component upgrade than they did prior to last Wednesday.

‘Find My’ Features Found In iOS 14 Code Include New Notification Triggers And AR Mode, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

iOS 14 will include a new notification feature for the location sharing part of Find My. Specifically, the updated app will include a new option to receive an alert when someone doesn’t arrive at a specific location at a scheduled time of day.

Stuff

Apple Music's AI-generated Upbeat Playlist Helps You Cope With Reality, by Igor Bonifacic, Engadget

Apple is trying something new to keep people's spirits up during the coronavirus pandemic. In Apple Music, it's introducing a new algorithmic playlist called the Get Up! Mix that the company says is full of "happy-making, smile-finding, sing-alonging music." With the help of human editors, it will update the playlist each week with new songs.

Apple Music's Beats 1 Hosts Shift To Remote Broadcasting, by Tatiana Cirisano, Billboard

Apple Music's Beats 1 global radio station will return to the airwaves today (March 23) with one notable change: In light of the coronavirus outbreak, all hosts will now broadcast remotely from their homes.

Apple Offering 10% iTunes And App Store Bonus As Business And Education App Downloads Jump \~300% Due To Coronavirus, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

With many students out of school and lots of companies having employees work from home during the coronavirus pandemic, we’re seeing business and education app downloads grow almost 300%. Meanwhile, Apple is now offering a 10% bonus when you add money to your Apple ID for the iTunes and App Store.

Luminar 4.2, by Agen Schmitz, TidBITS

A new AI Augmented Sky tool is added to the Creative tab, enabling you to place blend objects seamlessly with a photo’s sky, using your own images or objects from the curated Luminar collection. Using content-aware technologies, foreground objects are recognized and taken into account, making the placed object blend naturally with your existing scene.

Book Track Is An App That Lets You Organize Your Entire Book Collection In One Place, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

If you like to read plenty of books from different places, Book Track can be a useful app to track what you’re reading. The app is independent from other services and it works with a huge database, so you will probably find all the books you need.

Notes

A Major Feature In Apple's New iPad Pro Could Be A Clue To Where The Company's Products Are Headed, by Lisa Eadicicco, Business Insider

Augmented reality may not be a technology that most people care about, or are even very familiar with just yet. But the fact that it's one of the headlining features of the new iPad Pro could mean that's about to change. The new iPad Pro, with its dedicated AR sensors, may also lay the groundwork for what Apple could have planned for the iPhone and beyond.

Apple’s Watches Excluded From U.S. Tariffs On China Imports, by Jenny Leonard, Bloomberg

Apple Inc.’s request for its popular watches to be excluded from tariffs on Chinese imports was approved by the U.S. Trade Representative, according to a letter dated Friday from USTR to the company.

Virtual Travels In The Pandemic Age, by Reif Larsen, New York Times

After much fretting, weighing the culpability of the fossil fuel industry versus that of the individual, I’ve ended up at a tenuous philosophical balance point where I will minimize my air travel, choosing my trips carefully, but I won’t categorically say no to all travel. I will try to plan more trips locally, and I will look for alternate ways to find the magic.

Such a mind-set, it turns out, is also useful in the time of pandemics and self-quarantines. Right after we canceled our trip to South Carolina, Max, my 3-year-old, and I took a break from Hungry Hungry Hippos and attempted to recreate the trip virtually, using one of my favorite tools in the world: Google Street View.

The Read-Alongs Edition Monday, March 23, 2020

Apple Offers 'Stay At Home' Collection Of Free Apple Books, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

Earlier today, the Apple Books app sent out a push notification offering a free Apple Book to users. The notification mentioned read-alongs for kids, cozy mysteries, and audiobooks for the whole family.

Apple Scraps Curbs On Online Buyers Of iPhones Amid Virus Outbreak, by Josh Horwitz, Reuters

Apple has dropped a two-device limit on online purchases of iPhones, a check of its web stores showed on Monday, just days after changing the checkout procedure amid a coronavirus pandemic.

I Just Gave Apple $1800. I Hope I Don't Regret It, by Chris Matyszczyk, ZDNet

This will be the first time I've ever bought a piece of hardware without seeing it first in the metal flesh.

But will it be the last time I buy an Apple laptop?

Why I’ve Switched From Apple’s Mail App To Spike On All My Devices, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

If you combined email and iMessage into a single service, it would look like Spike. Spike strips away the formality of email (headers, signatures, etc.) and makes it look like iMessage.

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Do give yourself some time every day to not read the news. Go read some reviews on the latest Apple devices. Go buy or borrow an e-book. Go watch Apple TV+. Go listen to Bach.

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Thanks for reading.

The Siri-Advice Edition Sunday, March 22, 2020

Apple Updated Siri To Help People Who Ask If They Have The Coronavirus, by Chirstina Farr, Kevin stankiewicz, CNBC

Siri will ask users if they’re exhibiting symptoms of the disease, such as fever, dry cough or shortness of breath. Siri will advise people who say they have extreme or life-threatening symptoms to consider calling 911.

If users say their symptoms are not extreme or life threatening, Siri instructs people to stay home and avoid contact with other people. It advises them to contact a medical provider if their condition becomes more severe.

Apple Acknowledges Personal Hotspot Issues Affecting Some iOS 13 And iPadOS 13 Users, by Hartley Charlton, MacRumors

In an internal document distributed to Apple Authorized Service Providers this week, obtained by MacRumors, Apple has acknowledged that some iOS 13 or iPadOS 13 users may experience issues with Personal Hotspot.

Last Week On My Mac: No Thanks For The Memories, by Howard Oakley, The Eclectic Light Company

I understand that, because of its glorious past, Apple is about the future. But just now we need our past, with the future looking so uncertain. As Siri Hustvedt wrote in The Summer Without Men, “There is no future without a past, because what is to be cannot be imagined except as a form of repetition.”

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Here's hoping you can find some calm in the middle of it all. Today, I drank some happy tea, watched half a movie, listened to podcasts, and read two chapters of an e-book. And fiddled around PHP. It's nice to talk to a computer.

~

Thanks for reading. Stay safe.

The Missed-Pickup Edition Saturday, March 21, 2020

Customers Can't Get Their iPhones Back If They Left Them At An AppleStore Before They Closed Amid The Cornoavirus Pandemic, by Antonio Villas-Boas, Business Insider

Unfortunately for those who missed the pickup window, there's no way for them to get their devices until Apple Stores re-open, the spokesperson said.

As for those who's devices were sent out to Apple repair centers, the company is getting in touch with those customers to have their devices returned to them, rather than the normal route of having them shipped to an Apple Store for pickup.

Apple's Shutter Button Case Highlights The Power Of Software Control, by Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge

It’s a stark reminder of the power that software can add to a button — and conversely, of the difficulty in competing with a first-party product when you don’t have the ability to leverage those software functions on the same level. It doesn’t matter how good or bad hardware is when it’s software that defines how useful a button can be.

Stuff

The 2020 MacBook Air, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

For what it is meant to be, it’s really hard to complain about anything at all regarding this machine. Now that Apple has extricated itself from its butterfly keyboard thicket, it’s clear that Apple was onto something with this design language, which debuted with the no-adjective 12-inch MacBook in 2015.

Don’t overthink it. The new MacBook Air is what it looks like: nearly perfect.

2020 MacBook Air Review: No News Is Good News, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

If you don’t really need a new Mac laptop, maybe you should wait to see what happens with ARM. But if you’re someone who has been holding out for a new MacBook Air—and ideally one without that infamous keyboard—I wouldn’t recommend that you wait. This is the MacBook Air that you’ve been waiting for.

HeartWatch4: A Streamlined Dashboard For Your Health, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

HeartWatch takes the existing heart and activity data captured by your Apple Watch and presents it in a different way than Apple’s own Health app. The app has long offered fresh approaches to visualizing your data, but the sheer amount of information, and how it’s organized, can easily feel overwhelming. The main goal of HeartWatch 4 was to simplify everything, making it easier to navigate and thus more approachable. Spend just a couple minutes with this update and it’s clear that it succeeded.

Aerial Brings Apple TV Screen Savers To The Mac, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

If you have liked these screen savers on your TV, you can get them on your Mac, thanks to the free and open-source app Aerial.

Develop

As Economy Is Upended, Marie Kondo Drops A Workplace Book, by Penelope Green, New York Times

Keep your physical desktop clear of everything except that which you’re working on at the moment, as well as your computer and perhaps a plant. In these dark times, an uncluttered surface anticipates the caress of the Clorox wipe.

As for your virtual desktop, clean that up too. You can thank your digital data for its service, as you once did your balled-up socks at home, and let it go. (Maybe backing the most important of it up first.)

Notes

The iPad's Lidar Is A Dry Run For Apple's AR Glasses, by Brian Barrett, Wired

If you’ve heard of lidar it’s likely because of self-driving cars. It’s a useful technology in that context because it can build a 3D map of the sensor’s surroundings; it uses pulses of light to gauge distances and locations in a similar way to how radar uses radio signals. In an iPad Pro, that depth-sensing will be put in the service of augmented reality. But it’s not really about the iPad Pro. Apple put a lidar scanner in a tablet to prepare, almost certainly, for when it puts one in a pair of AR glasses.

Apple TV+ Cuts Streaming Quality In Europe To Help Reduce Strain On Networks, Alongside Other Streaming Services, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

European officials have instructed streaming services to reduce the amount of bandwidth their services use, in order to reduce strain on internet networks. Usage of streaming services has picked up substantially in recent weeks in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Naturally, when people are in isolation, they tend to watch a lot more TV than normal.

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If macOS is migrating to ARM, will there be tablets that can boot into macOS and iPadOS? Because, I will buy that.

(Unfortunately, I think the answer is no. Tying both macOS and iPadOS to the same machine is too much of a constraint for Apple to take.)

~

Thanks for reading.

The Protect-Consumers Edition Friday, March 20, 2020

There’s A Fight Raging Over Apple’s App Store. Why Some Regulators And Developers Are Calling It A Monopoly., by Matt Smith, Barron's

Critics describe Apple’s control over its App Store as more anticompetitive than Google’s rival offering, known as Google Play. A study by researchers affiliated with the University of Amsterdam concluded that Apple changes its rules when it releases its own products, whereas there appeared to be no such correlation with Google’s Android software. Android users can obtain apps from various marketplaces, including from Amazon and Samsung Electronics, while iPhone users are restricted to the Apple App Store. Google also makes it easier to set up outside products as the default apps on Android phones, according to Blix’s legal complaint.

In statements to Barron’s and regulators, Apple refuted the idea that its policies and practices are intended to suppress competition. The company says its platforms are managed to promote developers’ products, even in cases when Apple sells competing versions. Rules denounced by officials and merchants as anticompetitive actually protect consumers from fraud, eavesdropping, and other dangers, the company says.

Apple Finally Admits Microsoft Was Right About Tablets, by Tom Warren, The Verge

This careful and considered approach explains why it took Apple so long to bring cursor support to iPadOS. Tim Cook has previously discussed product trade-offs and the idea of converging PCs and tablets. “Anything can be forced to converge, but the problem is that products are about tradeoffs, and you begin to make tradeoffs to the point where what you have left doesn’t please anyone,” Cook said on an earnings call nearly eight years ago. He famously added: “You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not gonna be pleasing to the user.”

Cook was also adamant that Apple wouldn’t converge the MacBook Air and an iPad. “The compromise of convergence — we’re not going to that party,” he said. Cook has stayed true to that vision. Apple hasn’t converged macOS and iPadOS to bring trackpad and mouse support to the iPad. Instead, the message for the iPad now is that it can adapt to be more like a laptop or remain just like a tablet.

Stuff

Apple MacBook Air Review, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

The focus on portability is a strong selling point, when coupled with the workflow versatility of MacOS (versus iPadOS). The Air looks like it’s going to be sticking around for a bit, and that’s something for Apple users to be thankful for.

MacBook Air Review: $999 Again, But With A Catch, by Dan Ackerman, CNET

Start with the $999 base model, add $100 for the quad-core upgrade. Based on the on-paper specs for far, that's what you should do.

The Best And Worst Browsers For Privacy, Ranked, by Dan Goodin, Ars Technica

The rankings were revealed in a research paper published by Trinity College Dublin computer scientist Doug Leith. He analyzed and rated the privacy provided by Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Brave, Edge, and Yandex. Specifically, the study examined the browsers’ sending of data—including unique identifiers and details related to typed URLs—that could be used to track users over time. The findings put the browsers into three categories with Brave getting the highest ranking, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari receiving a medium ranking, and Edge and Yandex lagging behind the rest.

Notes

Apple Pledges Substantial Donation With Medical Supplies To Italy's First Responders And Medical Personnel, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple CEO Tim Cook today announced on Twitter that Apple is making a substantial donation that includes medical supplies to Protezione Civile in Italy, with the funds set to help first responders, medical personnel, and volunteers working to combat the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

A Keyboard Encryption App Used To Skirt Coronavirus Censorship Was Removed By Apple In China, by Jane Li, Quartz

Boom encrypts text, both in Chinese and English, by turning them into emoji or Japanese or Korean characters, as well as rearranging lines of text in random order. The receivers of such messages can decrypt them by copying the emoji or characters using the app, with the original text then displayed automatically on the keyboard’s interface. As China’s blanket online censorship relies heavily on the detection of key words or even pictures containing sensitive words, apps like Boom can help users avoid such scrutiny.

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It feels great to have a good and (relatively) inexpensive Mac laptop to recommend to others again.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Input-Mix Edition Thursday, March 19, 2020

Here’s How The iPad’s New Trackpad Actually Works, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

So the mouse support is there, but how will it work? The iPad and iPadOS are touch-based operating systems meant to be used with your big fat fingers, not tiny little pointers. Even when the Apple Pencil was introduced, they have stayed that way. Plus, more recently, iPadOS has increased the level of complexity for multitasking to 11 with support for multiple windows, split screens, slide-over windows, custom gestures for text editing, and more. Adding another input method to that mix could result in chaos.

We can answer some of your questions about how trackpad support will work today and we’ll get a chance to actually use it ourselves in the public beta. In the meantime, here’s what we definitely know about how it will work based on videos Apple has released publicly and on a video presentation given to reporters this morning.

Apple Will Update iWork Suite With Trackpad Support And iCloud Folder Sharing, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Pages, Numbers, and Keynote will all get full trackpad support on the platform, but they'll also gain iCloud Folder Sharing. "Collaboration will also become easier than ever with support for iCloud folder sharing and the ability to edit shared documents while offline," Apple wrote in its newsroom article.

Logitech Introduces Combo Touch Keyboard Case, Bringing A Trackpad To The iPad, iPad Air, And 10.5-inch iPad Pro, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Today following Apple’s debut of the new iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard, and cursor support coming to all iPad models that can run iPadOS 13.4, Logitech has announced a brand new accessory coming in May: the Combo Touch, which brings a keyboard case with trackpad to the iPad (7th generation), iPad Air, and 10.5-inch iPad Pro.

Apple Releases iOS And iPadOS 13.4 Golden Master With New Mail Toolbar, iCloud Folder Sharing, Trackpad Support For iPad And More, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple today released the golden master version of iOS and iPadOS 13.4, the latest major updates to the iOS 13 operating system that was released in September. The iOS and ‌iPadOS‌ 13.4 GMs come after a little over a month of beta testing.

Stuff

Apple Doubles The Storage In The Standard Mac Mini, by Jon Porter, The Verge

Apple has announced that the standard configurations of its Mac mini will now come with double the amount of storage. The computer’s $799 base configuration now comes with 256GB of storage, while the $1,099 configuration has 512GB. Apple announced the change alongside its new MacBook Air and iPad Pro.

Apple Debuts Colorful Spring Lineup Of iPhone Cases And Apple Watch Bands, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

As part of its spring product releases today, Apple has debuted a new color palette for its accessories like Apple Watch bands, silicone and leather iPhone cases, and iPad cases.

Apple Shares Two Ads Showcasing New iPad Pro Capabilities, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Apple has shared two ads on its YouTube channel highlighting the power of its just-updated 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, including a new Magic Keyboard.

Apple Makes Mac Pro Afterburner Card Available As Standalone Purchase, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

When the Mac Pro first launched, the Afterburner Card was only an option to purchase when configuring the machine as a $2,000 upgrade. Today, Apple has launched the accelerator at the same price but with the flexibility for customers to add it at any time to their Mac Pro if they didn’t buy it up front.

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I use my one pair of AirPods across all my Apple devices. Switching between devices is extremely easy. This is one major advantage of AirPods over the competitors -- at least, on Apple's ecosystem.

Now, I want the same ease to use my keyboard and mouse across all my Apple devices too. Please, Apple?

~

Thanks for reading.

The Scissor-Switch Edition Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Apple Announces New MacBook Air With Improved Keyboard, Faster Performance, And More Storage, by Chris Welch, The Verge

Apple’s 16-inch MacBook Pro is no longer the company’s only laptop with a reliable keyboard. This morning, Apple announced a revamped MacBook Air laptop with an improved scissor-switch keyboard, branded as the “Magic Keyboard,” that ditches the controversial butterfly mechanism of the previous-generation model. It has the same 1mm of keyboard travel as the 16-inch Pro.

The new Air also offers double the performance, according to Apple, featuring 10th-gen Intel processors up to a 1.2GHz quad-core Core i7. And it delivers 80 percent improved graphics performance, as the Air now features Intel Iris Plus Graphics. It comes with twice the storage as the prior machine — now starting with 256GB. You can configure it all the way up to 2TB.

Apple Unveils New iPad Pro With Magic Keyboard Case, Available To Order Today, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple describes the new Magic Keyboard as having a “floating design with smooth angle adjustment.” It attaches magnetically to the iPad Pro and features “unique cantilevered hinges” that allow it to adjust up to 130 degrees. The keyboard uses Apple’s scissor switch mechanism and is backlit as well.

[...]

iPadOS 13.4, which will be released on March 24, includes full trackpad support for the first time. Apple says that it hasn’t simply copied the trackpad experience from macOS, but rather completely “reimagined” it for iPad:

Emerging Technologies with Creativity

Augmented Reality: Meet The Artists Creating The Future Of Storytelling, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

A small but growing number of artists are combining emerging technologies with creativity to make the world a brighter place. These illustrators, designers, and digital sculptors believe that augmented reality (AR) has the potential to unlock new forms of storytelling and self-expression. It’s a bold bet, and the artists I spoke to aren’t waiting around to see if the future they imagine will come true — they’re creating it.

You’ve heard that AR will be transformative. You’ve seen it in action everywhere, from the iOS Measure app to Pokémon GO. But one largely unexplored application of AR, until recently, is augmented reality art.

Sparked in part by the release of design tools like Reality Composer and Adobe Aero, as well as initiatives like Today at Apple AR[T] Labs and immersive Walks at Apple Stores around the world, artists have been taking notice.

Stuff

Apple Has Radically Expanded Its Remote Learning & Device Management Advice, by William Gallagher, AppleInsider

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Apple has radically expanded its advice for teachers and education IT staff on how to facilitate working from home. As well as specific details of setting up Apple devices that need to be managed by the school, it recommends tools for working and for staying connected.

"Preparing your school's Apple devices for remote learning," is intended for IT staff to prepare both the school and individual Apple devices so that they can be used at home. It consists chiefly of one central support document, but then links to multiple pages and videos designed to help IT educators.

Apps That'll Help You Manage Stress & Anxiety During The Coronavirus Pandemic, by Jake Peterson, Gadget Hacks

There are plenty of apps in the App Store and Play Store that deal specifically with helping you with stress and anxiety, and we've pulled out the best of the bunch. But don't fret if your favorite meditation app is missing from the list below as we focused on apps designed to tackle stress and anxiety primarily.

While Headspace and others can help with psychological strain, pressure, and inner turmoil, meditation also benefits in a lot of other areas too. So you might find that the apps below help with stress and anxiety more than other apps broader in scope.

GitHub For iOS Lets You Check Your Code From Anywhere, by Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac

The code sharing and publishing service GitHub released iOS and Android apps today. These enable users to check code, talk to team members and even merge code right from their phone or tablet.

“There’s a lot you can do on GitHub that doesn’t require a complex development environment, like sharing feedback on a design discussion and reviewing a few lines of code, said Shanku Niyogi, senior vice president of product at GitHub. “Now we are making these tasks easy for you to perform, no matter where you work, with a beautifully native experience.”

HomeKit Secure Video Support Rolls Out For Anker eufyCam 2, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

Anker is now rolling out a firmware update to its eufyCam 2 security cameras bringing support for HomeKit Secure Video, after only starting with basic support for HomeKit after an update in January 2020.

Arcade Highlights: Roundguard, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Roundguard by Wonderbelly Games is a delightful mashup of genres that I highly recommend. Like a lot of our readers, I’ve been looking for distractions. It’s easy to get sucked into the constant barrage of bad news delivered to our devices, which feeds an unhealthy stress loop. One effective way I’ve broken that cycle is with video games, and the more absorbing and lighthearted, the better.

Roundguard fits the bill perfectly. The game has been universally described as a combination of Peggle and a dungeon-crawler RPG. That’s a strange mix to be sure, but it’s absolutely true, and it works.

Develop

Tips For The Mac User Newly Working From Home, by Jason Snell, Macworld

We live in strange times. I’d wager that a lot of you are now working from home, either for the first time or for a lot longer than you’re used to. I used to work in an office more or less every day, but for the past five years I’ve been working in my garage every day. As a result, I’ve learned a lot about the tools, techniques, and behaviors that can help you work more efficiently on your Mac or iPad from home. I hope what I’ve learned can help you be more productive and healthier at home.

Notes

iPhone Unlocking Tech GrayKey Went Up In Price Because Hacking iPhones Got Harder, by Joseph Cox, Motherboard

Last year, iOS forensics firm Grayshift increased the price of one of its iPhone unlocking products because breaking into iPhones became harder, according to emails obtained by Motherboard.

The news shows that although federal agencies and local police around the country have purchased the company's GrayKey device to break into locked and encrypted iPhones, that sort of access is not necessarily constant. The emails also highlight the cat and mouse game between forensic companies trying to discover vulnerabilities to unlock iPhones and Apple trying to make it harder for hackers of any stripe to break into its products.

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Here in Singapore, the new MacBook Air is not available for sale, and there's no date on when it will be available. The new iPad Pro is available, but the keyboard will only arrive in May.

Yeah, Apple's supply chain is definitely affected.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Grace-Period Edition Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Apple Offers Extended Return Period Due To Store Closures, Will Accept Returns Two Weeks After Stores Reopen, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

When it comes to returns, Apple says that it will accept returns for up to 14 days after its stores reopen, giving customers who need to return a product or an accessory a grace period while the stores are shut down.

[...]

As for repairs, Apple says that it is working to complete all repairs and that if a device is awaiting parts or is ready for pickup, an Apple employee will be in touch. Apple Stores have kept some staff available for customers to pick up devices on March 15 or 16 between 12:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Apple Website Banner Now Says Retail Stores Are Closed ‘Until Further Notice’, by Benjamin Mayo

It seems Apple is bracing for the likely scenario in which it will need to extend the deadline further. The global coronavirus pandemic continues to impact more and more industries, with no clear end date.

Apple’s Chinese Website Leaks Four New iPad Pro Models, by Gary Ng, iPhone In Canada

Apple’s iPad user manual in China lists the following iPad Pro configurations with model numbers “A2229” seen today, along with others: A2228; A2231; A2233. These represent 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models.

Stuff

Universal To Offer $20 iTunes Rentals Of Movies Still In Theaters Starting This Week, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Universal Studios has announced today that it is planning to release movies that are still in theaters on iTunes and other services starting this week. This announcement comes in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, with theaters limiting attendance and even shutting down completely.

Notes

Phones Could Track The Spread Of Covid-19. Is It A Good Idea?, by Will Knight, Wired

In 2011, two scientists at Cambridge University in the UK devised a clever way to measure and model the spread of the flu—an app called FluPhone that used Bluetooth and other wireless signals as a proxy for interactions between people, and asked users to report flu-like symptoms.

If you’d had lunch with someone who later got sick, FluPhone would let you know. Besides slowing the spread of the flu, the app promised to help health authorities monitor and model the spread of influenza. FluApp made headlines and the front page of the BBC website at the time. But in the end fewer than 1 percent of people in Cambridge signed up to use it.

As the deadly Covid-19 respiratory virus stalks the US, some techies suggest using smartphones to track and report transmissions. The idea raises many questions, including how well such a system would actually work, whether it might sow unnecessary alarm or confusion, and whether such tools might enable unwanted corporate or government surveillance.

Apple Park Employees Told To Shelter In Place As San Francisco Enacts Coronavirus Lockdown, by Mike Peterson, AppleInsider

Six counties in the San Francisco Bay Area issued a shelter in place mandate to residents on Monday in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, likely impacting employees at Apple Park in Cupertino, Calif.

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I do try very hard to reduce my anxiety level these days. Here are some of the things that I do:

a) Listen to audiobooks that has nothing to do with current affairs. (Right now, I am listening to Anthony Horowitz's The House of Silk.)

b) Listen to podcasts that has nothing to do with current affairs. And, be prepared to just skip forward some minutes or maybe just skip to the next podcast episode.

c) Play New York Times' Sudoku.

d) Take long walks while doing either (a) or (b).

~

Thanks for reading. Stay safe, stay healthy.

The Multiple-Fronts Edition Monday, March 16, 2020

Beats Announces $149 Powerbeats 4 With 15 Hours Of Battery Life, by Chris Welch, The Verge

The Powerbeats 4 have been upgraded on multiple fronts. They’ve got improved 15-hour battery life (up from 13 hours in the Powerbeats 4) and, like the Powerbeats Pro, are now rated IPX4 for sweat and water resistance. They contain Apple’s H1 chip for quick pairing and hands-free “Hey Siri” voice controls. And Beats says they should sound basically the same as the Powerbeats Pro, which remain among the best true wireless earbuds on the market in terms of audio quality.

Powerbeats 4: Hands On And First Look With Beats' Newest Headphones, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

We've only been using the Powerbeats 4 for a few hours thus far but so far we are very impressed with the improvements. Battery gains are substantial, the new design is much more polished, and we like the change from a flat cable to a round one.

The previous flat cable would occasionally stick to your neck while working out. Its flat surface combined with perspiration was a recipe for it holding onto your neck as you moved around. The round cable is much more comfortable, moves more freely, and ditches the cable management piece.

Stuff

Darkroom Photo Editor For iPhone And iPad Rebuilt With Major Performance Improvements, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The new depth engine is said to provide a much smoother and accurate blur editing engine similar to what you’ll find in the Photos app:

CorelDRAW 2020, by Agen Schmitz, TidBITS

The release updates the AI-assisted PowerTRACE feature to improve the quality of a bitmap as you trace it, brings AI-based upsampling options for enlarging images, adds new AI-enhanced Art Style effect presets inspired by the techniques of different artists and genres, improves the Mask Transform tool so transformations can be applied to pixels within a mask, and improves performance up to six times over the previous version.

Echelon Connect Bike Leverages iPad As The Center Of The At Home Fitness Experience, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

Once you launch the app, it becomes command central for your bike. You can take live and on-demand classes, see your leaderboard for the class, and monitor your performance.

Notes

Apple Fined A Record $1.2 Billion By French Antitrust Authorities, by Silvia Amaro, CNBC

The French competition authority said the iPhone maker was guilty of cartels within its distribution network and that it abused its economic dependence on its re-sellers.

Two of Apple's wholesalers were also fined: Tech Data and Ingram Micro received fines of 76.1 million euros and 62.9 million euros respectively.

Apple To Provide Maximum Payouts To Authorized Technicians For Qualifying Repairs Through April Amid COVID-19, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

In an internal memo to Apple Authorized Service Providers, obtained by MacRumors, Apple has indicated that its network of authorized repair shops will receive maximum payouts for qualifying product repairs for the months of March and April, regardless of performance metrics. Apple is making this move to ensure that its authorized technicians are financially supported amid the challenging COVID-19 pandemic.

Tim Cook, Eddy Cue Exposed To Coronavirus At Birthday Party, by Amber Neely, AppleInsider

Universal Music's CEO, Lucian Grainge, has tested positive for the Coronavirus —meaning that Tim Cook and Eddy Cue may have been exposed after attending his 60th birthday party.

The Reputable-Sources Edition Sunday, March 15, 2020

App Store Expediting COVID-19 Apps From Reputable Sources, Apple Blocking Coronavirus-themed Games And Entertainment Software, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Starting now, Apple is expediting approval for specific apps from reputable sources related to COVID-19. The App Store is also waiving the annual membership fee for distributing free apps for select groups. Apple will not approve apps that use COVID-19 themes for entertainment and games to limit apps that take advantage of the current health crisis.

Apple Card Assistance Program Will Allow Customers To Skip March Payment Without Interest Due To Coronavirus, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple Card holders today received an email informing them that should they need financial assistance due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, they can enroll in a new customer assistance program that will allow them to skip their March payment without incurring interest charges for that billing cycle.

Powerbeats 4 Spotted At Retail Ahead Of Official Announcement, by Wesley Hilliard, AppleInsider

Apple is expected to release some products sometime in the month of March, as they did last year, and this public sighting of a new product confirms that at least some new products are headed our way.

These Apps Make A Game Out Of Relieving Anxiety. They May Be Onto Something., by Sigal Samuel, Vox

There’s certainly an irony — some might say hypocrisy — in the tech world offering to solve a problem that it contributes to. Although we still need more data to determine the extent to which smartphone use may be driving increases in anxiety, it’s reasonable to suppose that technologies purposely designed to be addictive have at the very least been a contributing factor. So, even as we accumulate scientific evidence that some gamified apps are effective at reducing anxiety, we’d do well to think critically about how we use them.

McGonigal agrees that these apps need to be designed ethically, validated empirically, and used judiciously. But she has no doubt that for her, at least, turning the battle with anxiety into a game has taught her how to suffer less. With a laugh, she told me she’s just celebrated her “traumaversary,” the 10th anniversary of her concussion.

WSJ: Apple’s Shift To Remote Working Faces Glitches Due To Secrecy, Unclear Guidelines, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple is adapting at a relatively rapid pace to the ongoing coronavirus situation, and part of the company’s response has been allowing employees to work from home when possible. A new report today from The Wall Street Journal explores some of the road bumps Apple, as well as other tech companies, have hit in the process of shifting to remote work.

The report explains that the biggest problem for Apple has been maintaining its notorious focus on secrecy with a remote team. Apple software developers who started working from home this week say that there aren’t clear internal rules about what work should be done remotely.

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I try very hard to avoid thinking about work during non-working-hours and weekends. No good whatsoever to introduce anxieties and worries into my non-working life, isn't it?

But then, because of the virus thing, I am required to record my temperature reading into a company web site every single day. And that makes my avoidance more difficult.

Sigh.

~

Thanks for reading.

The New-Experience Edition Saturday, March 14, 2020

Apple Announces WWDC 2020 Will Be Held Online Only, by John Voorhees, MacStories

In a move that comes as no surprise, given the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus around the world, Apple announced today that WWDC, which has been held at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center for the past few years, will be held online this year. In a press release issued by the company today, Phil Schiller said:

“We are delivering WWDC 2020 this June in an innovative way to millions of developers around the world, bringing the entire developer community together with a new experience. The current health situation has required that we create a new WWDC 2020 format that delivers a full program with an online keynote and sessions, offering a great learning experience for our entire developer community, all around the world. We will be sharing all of the details in the weeks ahead.”

Apple To Close All Retail Stores Outside Of China Until March 27th, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple today announced that it is closing all of its retail locations outside of Greater China until March 27 due to the continuing spread of the coronavirus, which means Apple Stores worldwide will be shuttered for the next two weeks.

Tim Cook’s Trick For Making iPhones Is Now At Risk From The Pandemic, by Elizabeth Lopatto, The Verge

Before he was Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook’s job as COO was to implement just-in-time manufacturing. Cook was familiar with the practice because it had been part of his first job at IBM. Steve Jobs knew he needed someone to reform Apple’s manufacturing, and hired Cook from Compaq to do it.

Cook “closed factories and warehouses around the world and instead established relationships with contract manufacturers,” according to a 2008 article in Fortune Magazine. Cook called inventory “fundamentally evil,” and so reduced the amount of time inventory was on the company balance sheet “from months to days.” In 2012, an article in The Atlantic praised Apple for turning over its inventory once every five days. Apple’s ability to launch, manufacture, and ship millions of iPhones around the world every year like clockwork with little remaining inventory is a miracle of globalized just-in-time manufacturing — but the entire JIT system is being tested by the coronavirus.

Privacy Matters

TikTok And Other Popular iOS Apps Are Spying On Your iPhone Clipboard, by Matt Binder, Mashable

App developers Tommy Mysk and Talal Haj Bakry recently published their research uncovering a major vulnerability with the cut-copy-paste feature on Apple iOS devices. The two developers found that Apple provides apps with the ability to read data stored in the system’s clipboard, officially called Pasteboard on iOS devices. Furthermore, they discovered that dozens of popular iPhone and iPad apps access this data every time a user opens them.

“We have investigated many popular apps in the App Store and found that they frequently access the pasteboard without the user being aware,” the developers wrote. “Our investigation confirms that many popular apps read the text content of the pasteboard.”

Stuff

Are Apps Becoming A Real Alternative To Music Lessons?, by Jeff Link, Built In

Playground Sessions, like Flowkey, Simply Piano and a growing list of music learning apps, allows you to learn how to play by practicing popular and classical songs arranged by internal teams of composers.

Pokémon Go Temporarily Won’t Make You Leave The House Due To Coronavirus, by Patricia Hernandez, Polygon

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the world, entire businesses and industries are shifting to accommodate increased social distancing. In the case of Pokémon Go, a game that typically requires you to go out into the real world and congregate around points of interest, Niantic will temporarily change various mechanics to help increase the safety of its players.

GoNoodle Launches Motion-sensing Activity Games For Kids, by Dean Takahashi, VentureBeat

GoNoodle is launching something it calls “movement games” on smartphones and tablets for kids. The GoNoodle Games app uses the cameras and motion sensors of the devices to detect whether kids are moving and exercising as they should in a game.

Notes

Bill Gates Steps Down From Microsoft's Board, by Steven Levy, Wired

When Gates left his software architect job at Microsoft in 2008, he told me that the subjects he tackled at the foundation were more vital than the ones he made about software. He mentioned one decision in particular: he had to choose between two kinds of malaria vaccines to support. “One of those paths saves millions of lives, compared to the other path,” he told me. “I've never had a Microsoft decision that had exactly that character.”

Now he’ll have even fewer Microsoft decisions. Bill’s brain has other work to do.

The Months-Away Edition Friday, March 13, 2020

Apple Music Strikes New Multiyear Deals With Major Record Labels, by Anna Nicolaou, Financial Times

In recent months, the iPhone maker sealed multiyear licensing deals with Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music, said four people familiar with the matter, allowing for hits from artists spanning Taylor Swift, Lizzo and Adele to continue to be streamed on Apple Music.

Apple’s new contracts do not, however, include an economic agreement to bundle Apple Music with the company’s television service, these people said, indicating that a widely anticipated super-bundle of Apple’s media content may be months away.

Mac Pro Still Poorly Supported By Apple Store Genius Bar Months After Launch, by Mike Wuerthele and Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

The limited production and penetration of the Mac Pro has an unfortunate side-effect —much of Apple's service network is unable to support the machine properly if something goes wrong.

Recently, the AppleInsider production Mac Pro started acting up. In an attempt to get our machine repaired, we went through the typical Apple support route. This has highlighted the shortcomings of Apple's traditionally exceptional customer experience.

'Today At Apple' Sessions Suspended At All Apple Stores In U.S. And Canada Amid Coronavirus Pandemic, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple today announced that it is temporarily pausing its "Today at Apple" programming as a precautionary measure amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, with sessions canceled at all Apple Stores in the United States and Canada until further notice.

Develop

Does Retirement Hurt, Rather Than Help, The Aging Process?, by Camilla Cavendish, Literary Hub

“When a car old, everyone says you get a new one. But here, we work to keep the same cars running longer. We value the oldies,” chuckles Minuro Ishikawa, running his strong, tanned hands over a gleaming 1957 Toyota Crown, one of the vintage cars he restores for a living.

Aged 79, Ishikawa is a perfect exemplar of how to use Extra Time. He has outlived both the founder of Shinmei Automobile Co., who hired him, and the founder’s son. He now works for the founder’s grandson, Yasuhiro Kondo.

Notes

Apple Reopens All 42 China Stores After Virus Closures, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Since shutting the stores, Apple gradually reopened them and 38 of the 42 stores were operating as of last week. The final four will open their doors on Friday local time, according to Apple’s website. An Apple spokesman confirmed the move.

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Weekend's here. My challenge to myself: can I not think about work for forty-eight hours?

~

Thanks for reading.

The Scaling-Back Edition Thursday, March 12, 2020

Apple Is Telling Retail Workers Not To Encourage Customers To Try On The Apple Watch Or AirPods In A Precaution Against Spreading The Coronavirus, by Lisa Eadicicco, Business Insider

Apple is scaling back Apple Watch try-ons at some of its retail stores in an effort to combat the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Apple Store employees are being instructed not to encourage customers to try on products like the Apple Watch and AirPods, and to only allow customers to do so upon request. It's part of the broader measures Apple is taking to protect its staff and customers amidst the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, which has killed 31 people in the United States and infected more than 1,150 as of Wednesday. The company has also reduced the number of stools and chairs in stores to promote distance between people.

Work In The Time Of Corona, by Alice Goldfuss

Switching to remote may make you feel distracted, anxious, or depressed, and you might not know why. Being alone all day, even with coworkers in a chat window, can make you feel isolated and hyper-focused on negative thoughts. It’s easy to spiral on the tone of a single chat message.

And that’s before acknowledging that these are unusual and stressful circumstances. You are working remote due to a looming pandemic. It’s possible your spouse or child was sent home as well, so there’s new and different stimulation around you. There’s a lot of uncertainty and abrupt change in your life.

The most important takeaway from this guide, the one thing you need to absorb, is this: if you are feeling bad, reconnect with the world. You are now in an isolated environment and the easiest way to short-circuit feelings of stress and unease is to disengage from your office life and reconnect with the larger world outside it.

Coming Soon?

The Next iPhone Will Get A ‘World Facing’ 3D Camera, by Mark Sullivan, Fast Company

At least one of this year’s iPhones will feature a 3D depth camera on its back, a source with knowledge confirms to Fast Company.

The camera—actually a laser, sensor, and software system—emits light to measure the distance between the phone and various objects and surfaces in front of it. This detailed depth information will enable new photo and video effects, as well as better augmented reality experiences.

watchOS 7 To Include New ‘International’ Apple Watch Face With Multiple Country Flags, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

There’s also a new watch face, likely digital, identified as “International” which, as the name suggests, will show flags from different countries. We don’t yet have details on what complications this watch face can exhibit, but you can take a look at the images extracted from iOS 14 to imagine how it will appear.

Stuff

When Should You Upgrade From An Older macOS?, by Howard Oakley, The Eclectic Light Company

As a general principle, you should run the most recent release of macOS that you can, without compromising what you do with your Mac. For many, that may not include Catalina, because of its substantial architectural changes including the loss of 32-bit software support.

The Best Pixel Editor For macOS, by Marius Masalar, The Sweet Setup

Affinity Photo perfectly suits users whose needs tend to revolve around normal photo manipulation, exposure blending, graphic design, resizing, and compositing work. Skills learned in Affinity Photo are transferrable to Photoshop if your needs change and you want to switch to the more powerful tool, but even advanced users will likely find that they have no need to do so.

Dropzone 4 Review: Excellent Menubar Utility Supercharges Mac Drag And Drop, by J.R. Bookwalter, Macworld

This menubar app enhances the process with convenient “drop zones” to copy, move, or open files in frequently-used applications using a single gesture.

Notes

Apple Closes All 17 Stores In Italy Amid Coronavirus Pandemic, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. said it is closing all 17 of its retail stores in Italy “until further notice” as the coronavirus pandemic limits activity in the country.

The Cupertino, California-based company previously shuttered all 42 stores in mainland China, but it has since reopened most of them.

Apple Signs Open Letter Voicing Opposition To New Legislation Targeting LGBTQ Community, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple is among 40 companies voicing opposition to recent bills introduced across the United States that target LGBTQ citizens. The businesses who signed the open letter, which was published today by the Human Rights Campaign, argue that these bills are bad for business.

We Built A Database Of Over 500 iPhones Cops Have Tried To Unlock, by Joseph Cox, Motherboard

For all the public bluster on both sides of the Going Dark issue, neither tells the full story. On one side, the Department of Justice has repeatedly advocated for a new method of access, perhaps where Apple would retain encryption keys for devices that law enforcement could then use themselves. When the Department of Justice discusses the issue publicly, they almost never mention that tools do exist which can unlock iPhones in some circumstances, including the latest models. On the other, an overwhelming number of technologists and the tech giants themselves say that creating a backdoor would further expose users to hackers and other threats.

But this debate is most often discussed with anecdotes and not data, and never data that is publicly available, until now. Motherboard collected and analyzed over 500 iPhone search warrants and related documents filed throughout 2019 to build a database of cases in which law enforcement attempted to get information from an iPhone.

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When I spent my day talking to computers, figuring how to get the computers to do what I want them to do, at the end of the day, even though I am tired, I still feel good.

When I spent my day talking to people, figuring how to get people to do what I need them to do, at the end of the day, I feel tired, and I feel bad.

I am tired now. And I am feeling bad.

I tried my usual

~

Thanks for reading.

The Give-Me-A-Hug Edition Wednesday, March 11, 2020

'It's Amazing' - Mum Fighting MND Gets Voice App To Speak With Her Kids, by Lynne Kelleher, Herald.ie

Stephen Hawking famously used a computer-generated voice to communicate, but two Irish scientists - inventor Trevor Vaugh and electronics engineer Chiara Cavarra - came up with a way to capture Roisin's own voice in a special app with remarkable 21st-century features.

Much of the speech on the unique iPad app uses recordings of her own voice so she can 'speak' to her three young children, Rosie, Rachel and Sadie.

[...]

The most important part of the app is the ground-breaking way it links Roisin to her three daughters through the use of special app-connected bracelets on their arms. Affectionate phrases pop up whenever the children approach their mother. One such phrase is "Give me a hug", which pops up on the screen as a button she can press.

Is The iPad Pro Ready For Real Photo Editing? I Ditched My MacBook To Find Out, by Hillary K. Grigonis, Digital Trends

While traveling, I didn’t miss my laptop. The iPad kept up with my basic culling and editing tasks with only minor annoyances. Most of the hiccups were from the apps, not the hardware.

But at home, I picked up right where I left off on my laptop. Not because of performance, but because of the bigger screen, a full keyboard, and access to a full version of Photoshop and Lightroom Classic.

Why It’s Hard To Know What Problems Screen Time Causes, by Jane C. Hu, Slate

These conclusions and recommendations come from dozens of studies probing correlations between screen time and behavior. But as any scientist will be quick to tell you, correlation is not causation, and it’s not clear that screen time actually causes, say, depression or anxiety. That’s because studies that show causal links are difficult to come by; they’re difficult to design and difficult to execute, leaving us with fewer causal conclusions and more associative studies to rely on for decision-making and policy.

Stuff

Apple Releases New 'Snap' Ad For AirPods Pro Featuring Noise Cancellation And Transparency Mode, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The ad centers around an AirPods Pro wearing woman who uses transparency mode to do errands around the city whilst switching to noise cancellation mode to be transported into the music.

Things Debuts Modernized Apple Watch App, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Things was relatively feature-rich on the Apple Watch before, but due to its reliance on older watchOS technologies, it wasn’t able to provide as reliable an experience as Watch users deserve. I’m thankful that’s changed today with the debut of version 3.12. Things for Apple Watch is no longer a second-class citizen to its iPhone, iPad, and Mac counterparts; rather, thanks to Things Cloud integration it’s become just as rock-solid as those other versions.

Automate Window Positioning With macOS And Apps, by Julio Ojeda-Zapata, TidBITS

Magnet and Moom provide a capability I have envied in Microsoft Windows and Google’s ChromeOS: “window snapping.” When you drag windows to the edges of the screen, window snapping causes them to snap into particular positions and shapes.

Develop

These Tech Companies Are Squashing Meeting Culture, by Molly Fosco, Built In

When San Francisco meeting notes startup Hugo decided to instate a maximum of four hours of meetings per week, they noticed something interesting.

By forgoing meetings, and sharing company information through notes, Slack and video instead, the team found it was better informed about company projects and goals than they were when they had more meetings. This exchange also prompted employees to start speaking up more often.

Notes

Santa Clara County Bans 'Mass Gatherings', by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Given the current state of affairs, I don’t think this announcement would’ve mattered to Apple, because I can’t see the company even attempting to pull off a big public events in an era where we’d probably be better off cancelling everything.

The Today-Canceled Edition Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Apple Cancels 'Today At Apple' Sessions In US Coronavirus Hotspots, by Mike Peterson, AppleInsider

"Today at Apple" sessions have been canceled at five of the six Washington Apple Stores and every retail location in the San Francisco Bay Area. Running a search for any of these stores will bring up a message stating that "no sessions are scheduled."

Apple Now Says It's Now OK To Use Disinfectant Wipes To Clean Your iPhone, by Todd Haselton, CNBC

Apple has updated its website with instructions that say it's OK to use disinfectant wipes to clean your iPhone and other Apple gadgets.

[...]

The change comes as more people look to keep their hands and phones free of germs, particularly as the coronavirus spreads around the world.

An Apple Guide To Effective (And Productive) Remote Working, by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

I’ve been working remotely for more than 15 years. I thought that with so many people working remotely in response to the novel coronavirus it may be useful to share some of the things I’ve learned that help me make remote working productive and useful.

Coming Soon?

Sophisticated Mouse Cursor Support Coming To iOS 14, New iPad Smart Keyboard Models With Trackpad, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

According to code seen by 9to5Mac, Apple is set to roll out rich system-wide support for mouse cursors with iOS 14. Apple added rudimentary compatibility with external mice in iOS 13 Accessibility settings, but iOS 14 will make it mainstream.

The iOS 14 build also referenced two new Smart Keyboard models in development.

Apple Developing Fitness App For iOS 14 That Lets You Download Guided Workout Videos, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

With the fitness app, users may be able to download fitness videos that cover a range of different workout options and activities, getting guidance on completing those activities on the Apple Watch. Apple provides a gallery of different workout routines that can be downloaded and synced to the Apple Watch, with the videos themselves shown on the iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV.

Stuff

Shot On iPhone Video Takes 5-hour Tour Through State Hermitage Museum, by Luke Dormehl, Cult of Mac

In Apple’s newest Shot on iPhone video, debuted Monday, it depicts a beautifully filmed after-hours tour through the iconic State Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Total running time? Five hours, 19 minutes, and 28 seconds. This includes more than 45 galleries and even a live ballet sequence.

NetNewsWire For iOS And iPadOS Review: The Perfect Complement To The App's macOS Counterpart, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Like its Mac counterpart, the iOS and iPadOS version is built on a foundation of fast syncing and sensible, bug-free design. As with any 1.0 app, there are additional features and refinements I hope to see in future releases. Unlike most 1.0 releases, though, you won’t find lots of rough edges and bugs. NetNewsWire is ready to be your primary RSS client today.

OmniFocus 3.6, by Agen Schmitz, TidBITS

The Omni Group has released OmniFocus 3.6, adding support for “floating” time zones to ensure that items will become due or available at the same local time no matter where you are in the world.

Notes

Apple Giving Retail And Hourly Workers Unlimited Sick Leave For Coronavirus-like Symptoms, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

In addition to offering many of its employees the ability to work from home this week, Apple is also taking steps to ensure the well-being of its retail workers. 9to5Mac has learned that Apple hourly employees, including retail workers, are getting unlimited sick leave if they experience COVID-19 symptoms.

All But Four Of Apple's Stores In Mainland China Have Reopened After Coronavirus Shutdown, by Arjun Kharpal, CNBC

The U.S. technology giant has 42 stores in China and 38 of those are open again. Several of those however are still running limited operating hours.

How The Mathematical Conundrum Called The 'Knapsack Problem' Is All Around Us, by Elizabeth Landau, Smithsonian

Imagine you’re a thief robbing a museum exhibit of tantalizing jewelry, geodes and rare gems. You're new at this, so you only brought a single backpack. Your goal should be to get away with the most valuable objects without overloading your bag until it breaks or becomes too heavy to carry. How do you choose among the objects to maximize your loot? You could list all the artifacts and their weights to work out the answer by hand. But the more objects there are, the more taxing this calculation becomes for a person—or a computer.

This fictional dilemma, the “knapsack problem,” belongs to a class of mathematical problems famous for pushing the limits of computing. And the knapsack problem is more than a thought experiment. “A lot of problems we face in life, be it business, finance, including logistics, container ship loading, aircraft loading — these are all knapsack problems,” says Carsten Murawski, professor at the University of Melbourne in Australia. “From a practical perspective, the knapsack problem is ubiquitous in everyday life.”

Popular VPN And Ad-Blocking Apps Are Secretly Harvesting User Data, by Craig Silverman, BuzzFeed News

Sensor Tower, a popular analytics platform for tech developers and investors, has been secretly collecting data from millions of people who have installed popular VPN and ad-blocking apps for Android and iOS, a BuzzFeed News investigation has found. These apps, which don’t disclose their connection to the company or reveal that they feed user data to Sensor Tower’s products, have more than 35 million downloads.

Since 2015, Sensor Tower has owned at least 20 Android and iOS apps. Four of these — Free and Unlimited VPN, Luna VPN, Mobile Data, and Adblock Focus — were recently available in the Google Play store. Adblock Focus and Luna VPN were in Apple's App Store. Apple removed Adblock Focus and Google removed Mobile Data after being contacted by BuzzFeed News. The companies said they continue to investigate.

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The only 'fix' that I know how to do is to switch-off-and-switch-back-on-again. If that doesn't work, I'll be helpless.

(Just restarted my wifi.)

~

Thanks for reading.

The Reduce-Density Edition Monday, March 9, 2020

Apple’s Cook Offers Work From Home This Week To Most Staff, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Beyond encouraging work from home, Cook said Apple is “making a major effort to reduce human density and ensure those teams that are on-site can do their work safely and with peace of mind.”

Apple is implementing “new efforts to maximize interpersonal space and continuing, enhanced deep cleanings,” according to the memo. This includes reducing human density and occupancy at Apple classes and Genius Bar appointments at stores.

Coming Soon?

Blood Oxygen Detection And Upgraded ECG Features For Apple Watch In Development, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Apple is developing at least two new features focused on health that will expand Apple Watch capabilities in the future. Apple Watch will add the ability to detect blood oxygen levels for the first time, 9to5Mac has learned.

Apple’s Powerbeats 4 Specs And Images Leak, by Jon Porter, The Verge

Internally, the earbuds will reportedly use Apple’s new H1 wireless chip, similar to the Powerbeats Pro, which should mean support for features like “Hey Siri” and “Announce Messages with ‌Siri‌.” The earbuds will reportedly be available in black, white, and red.

Stuff

Apple Celebrates International Women’s Day With Interactive Homepage Feature, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

On both desktop and mobile, Apple’s homepage has been transformed into a scrollable universe of biographies of influential women in modern culture, from Malala to Greta Gerwig.

Selected Apple Stores Launch 'iPhone Can Do Whaaaat?' Display, by William Gallagher, AppleInsider

The 20 phones each start by displaying a brief explanatory sentence, followed by words such as "swipe," "tap," or "scroll." When the user does that, they see more details and a visual demonstration of the iPhone feature.

Among the features Apple is promoting are ones to do with Apple Pay and Find My. "Send money as easily as a message," says one, while another reads: "Lost it? Find it with the Find My app."

I Thought Apple Watch Was Pointless But Now I Love It, by Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac

I got a used Apple Watch Series 2, which you can find for under $100. I was immediately surprised how useful I found this device, despite how obsolete it is.

Develop

Hit Delete, Ditch Reply-all And Other Ways To Manage Your Work Emails, by Amy Fleming, The Guardian

“Get really comfortable with the delete button,” he says, “and set your recycling bin not to empty regularly, so that if you accidentally delete things, you can retrieve them easily.” The goal should be managing your attention, not your emails, he says, “therefore a key part of an ‘inbox zero’ system is to do whatever it takes to get your attention on to the most important and fulfilling stuff. If that means a few smaller things go awry once in a while, so be it. Your job isn’t to do email well, it’s to use email to do your work well.”

Notes

ARM-ed Mac: Not Again Or For Real This Time?, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

Today, the Mac line represents a little less than 8% of Apple total revenue. How much of a temporary revenue disturbance would Apple be willing to endure in order to secure an ARM future for its iconic personal computer? Could the iPad’s rising revenue (6.5% of total) help cover the hit once its user interface (and keyboard with trackpad) makes it more laptop-like?

Bottom of the Page

Why is the volume control missing in so many apps' Now Playing screen? Of all the music- and podcasts- and audiobooks-playing apps currently in my iPhone, only one app has a volume control easily accessible in the Now Playing screen. (Which app? Apple's Music app.)

Yes, I know the volume control is 'easily' available in the control centre, just one swipe away. But, seriously, aren't the reduction of clicks and swipes and what-nots a good thing in user experience?

Or is it that difficult to implement a good volume control in iOS?

~

Thanks for reading.

The Simply-Cannot-Afford Edition Sunday, March 8, 2020

The Coronavirus Is Wiping Out Tech Conferences, And That's Not All Bad, by Mark Sullivan, Fast Company

Still, for all the benefits of spending a few days soaking up information and inspiration in person, the cancellation of in-person big tech events in favor of online replacements might make the events more inclusive. There are developers across the U.S. and around the world who get shut out when the conferences get sold out. Even more of them simply can’t afford the admission fee (last year’s WWDC was $1599) and travel expenses required to spend time in the Bay Area or Seattle.

Apple uses a lottery system to pick registered developers at random, who then get the opportunity to buy a ticket for the event. “Not having a set of 5,000 people who paid to be there, and potentially millions of other people who don’t get access to things exclusive to those attending, such as labs and all of the networking, but instead having everyone on the same level can be a good thing,” says iOS developer Rambo.

Stuff

6 Important Apps Developed By Women You Probably Didn't Know About, by Shomik Sen Bhattacharjee, Mashable

It is worth noting that the vast majority of app developers are male. This has nothing to do with ability or talent.

Luckily, those who do understand the importance of bringing together women and technology are working to change that. My point is that we don't celebrate app developers enough and International Womens Day gives us a chance to recognize women in tech who've been the force behind a number of interesting apps on the App Store.

No we aren't just talking about a regular listicle with a bunch of interesting apps but also a dive into the struggles these women have endured to realise these apps.

Apple Music & Lady Gaga Team Up To Celebrate International Women's Day, by Mitchell Peters, Billboard

As the music streaming service's new Artist in Residence, Gaga has curated an exclusive playlist, titled Women of Choice, featuring her new single "Stupid Love," along with music by St. Vincent, Rosalia, Grimes, Charli XCX and HAIM, among others.

Here's What Happens When You Set Your HomeKit Router's Highest Security Settings, by Christopher Close, iMore

How did it turn out? Surprisingly well, as I thankfully didn't have to remove or reset any accessories, and everything in my home works pretty much the same as before. However, since everything still works like it always has, it was a little hard to truly know whether or not things had actually changed behind the scenes. It wasn't until a few days later when I reviewed the activity data provided through the eero Secure service, that I could truly say that it made a difference.

Solitaire, Scrabble Among Classic Casual Games Rebooted For On-the-go Playing, by Marc Saltzman, USA Today

Classics such as these are not only available today, but also are playable on the one device you always have with you: your smartphone or tablet. And many are free.

Develop

Your Colleagues Don’t Read Anything You Write. Here Are 8 Ways To Change That., by Aaron Orendorff, New York Times

The real pain of writing at work only to have our words disappear into the ether — the wasteland of no response — is more than feeling small and disrespected; it’s the professional consequences that compound them.

“Ambiguity is a symptom of immediacy,” Ann Handley, the author of “Everybody Writes,” said. “We dash off emails, Slack messages, texts, or quick-hit memos with neither forethought nor clear intention.”

Beneath these brutal realities, getting busy co-workers and bosses to take action means changing eight things about the way we communicate.

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I was not amazed by the first story in Apple's Amazing Stories.

In fact, if this story is part of the original 1980s run of Amazing Stories, when I was still a easily-impressed young teenager who hasn't seem too many time-traveling stories, I may still not be amazed then.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Blank-Screen Edition Saturday, March 7, 2020

Apple Launches Repair Program For Blank Screen Issue Affecting Third-Generation iPad Air, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple says that affected devices were manufactured between March 2019 and October 2019, and that any iPad experiencing this issue will be repaired by Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider free of charge.

Apple Encourages Silicon Valley Staff To Work From Home On Virus, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple retail stores in the San Francisco Bay Area remain open, but the company is limiting some “Today at Apple” classes in the region and in the Seattle area, which has the largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. The iPhone maker also is spacing out Genius Bar service appointments throughout the stores so people are not as close to one another.

Bigger May Be Better, But Good Things Come In Small Packages, by Dan Moren, Macworld

Lately, though, Apple seems to have fixated on the former adage. The company churns out larger and larger phones, laptops, and iPads, and while there are clearly plenty of customers who covet those expansive devices, the chunk of the market that might prefer something a little more compact is increasingly left out in the cold.

As someone who sees the value in smaller devices, I feel like there are a number of great opportunities for Apple to consider shrinking down some of its product lines—and not just when it comes to the old “razor thin” approach. So, let’s get small.

Tampa Artist Uses Technology To Bring His Artwork To Life, by Aubrey Jackson, WTSP

The tech-based artist pays homage to the greats before him while infusing devices and software equipped to make beautiful artwork using half the time and supplies. Davis enjoys sketching and drawing through the procreate app that allows artists to create gorgeous illustrations and animations as if they were in an art studio.

"At first I think a lot of people assume that what I do using my iPad is just photo-shop. But it's much more, now with digital art, you're able to create the same work that Jean-Michel Basquiat created," Davis said.

How Parents Can Engage With School Tech, by Kristen Hampshire, Cleveland Magazine

Technology is practically as elemental as breathing for today’s school-aged children, who never met a screen they couldn’t touch or held a phone that wasn’t smart.

Classrooms have evolved, too, with educators integrating technology to varying degrees — from school-issued computers and tablets to robust learning-management systems that house homework assignments, reference material and grades, and are accessible online from anywhere.

The Recognized-Institution Edition Friday, March 6, 2020

Apple Is Rejecting Coronavirus Apps That Aren't From Health Organizations, App Makers Say, by Kif Leswing, CNBC

Four independent developers told CNBC that Apple rejected their apps, which would allow people to see stats about which countries have confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Some of these apps used public data from reliable sources like the World Health Organization (WHO) to create dashboards or live maps. Some developers asked not to be named to avoid further complications with Apple's review process.

One developer said an Apple employee explained over the phone that anything related to the coronavirus must be released by an official health organization or government. Another developer got a written response that "apps with information about current medical information need to be submitted by a recognized institution," according to a screenshot seen by CNBC.

New County Guidance Asks Tech Giants To Avoid Travel, Postpone Big Events, by Jay Peters, The Verge

Companies based in Santa Clara County, California — which includes Cupertino, Mountain View, Palo Alto, and San Jose — should avoid travel and postpone or cancel mass gatherings, the county recommended on Thursday. The recommendations come after six new cases of the novel coronavirus have been identified, bringing the total number of people confirmed to have the disease to 20.

The Coronavirus Is Forcing Techies To Work From Home. Some May Never Go Back, by Alex Kantrowitz, BuzzFeed News

As the coronavirus spreads in the United States and tech companies ask their workforces to do their jobs from home, some in the industry are looking at the outbreak as a test case for the long-gestating but never-arriving moment when working remotely will broadly replace working in person.

How Newsrooms Can Tone Down Their Coronavirus Coverage While Still Reporting Responsibly, by Al Tompkins, Poynter

The public is starting to freak out. Don’t add to it with screaming clickbait headlines and scary generic images.

Stuff

Prolific Anime Director Profiled In New 'Behind The Mac' Video, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

Apple has continued its 'Behind the Mac' campaign in Japan by sticking with its current focus on animation, publishing a new video featuring Japanese animator, film-maker, and director of anime film 'Your Name' Makoto Shinkai.

The Iconfactory Tot Review: An Elegant, Essential ‘Scratchpad’ Notetaking App, by Leif Johnson, Macworld

Tot is worth its price. it has eliminated my frustrations with dozens of “trash” documents with text snippets in apps like iA Writer, and it does this so elegantly that I kind of wish Apple would have come up with the idea itself. When I’m done with the information on the page, I simply delete it and clear room for future pasting.

Apps We’re Trying: Tot, by Mike Schmitz, The Sweet Setup

The beauty of the app is in its simplicity. Just open the app and start typing. The app supports two text-entry modes (plain text and Markdown), but that’s it — no images, no PDFs, etc. — just text. Even the formatting options are purposefully simple (just bold and italic).

Develop

A Modern “Hello, World” Program Requires More Than Just Code, by Charles R. Martin, The Overflow

The point of K&R’s original “Hello, World” was not to see “Hello, world” on the terminal. It was instead to make sure that you have all the tools, and the basic understanding of the C language and UNIX programming environment needed in order to write a C program, and having the tools and understanding to build programs is an important first step—maybe the most important first step—in starting every project.

Often, it’s also more complicated than it first seems. A realistic project now requires not just an editor and a compiler, but an understanding of how programs are packaged, how the build environment should be structured, how you plan to maintain version control, how to actually build the program, and what the desired product of the programming project needs to deliver. So while a basic “Hello, World” program might still be only five lines of code, building the initial, ready-to-develop “Hello, World” can be much more complicated.

Notes

Through Apps, Not Warrants, ‘Locate X’ Allows Federal Law Enforcement To Track Phones, by Charles Levinson, Protocol

U.S. law enforcement agencies signed millions of dollars worth of contracts with a Virginia company after it rolled out a powerful tool that uses data from popular mobile apps to track the movement of people's cell phones, according to federal contracting records and six people familiar with the software.

The product, called Locate X and sold by Babel Street, allows investigators to draw a digital fence around an address or area, pinpoint mobile devices that were within that area, and see where else those devices have traveled, going back months, the sources told Protocol.

Bottom of the Page

There need to be something on the iPadOS where you can do a Hello World with just two steps (type one line, then press one button), but can also create a full-blown app worthy of the App Store.

Hypercard or BASIC for the modern world?

~

Thanks for reading.

The Loaner-Devices Edition Thursday, March 5, 2020

Apple Warns Stores About A Shortage Of Replacement iPhones, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

The company recently told technical support staff at stores that replacement iPhones for heavily damaged devices will be in short supply for as long as two to four weeks, according to Apple Store employees.

The workers, known as Geniuses, were advised in a memo that they can offer to mail replacement iPhones to customers and provide loaner devices to ease delays.

Spring Forward, Fail Back: Apple Still Can’t Tell Time, by Glenn Fleishman, TidBITS

Why my iPhone can know the warranty is active when an Apple Store database doesn’t, only the deep innards of Apple’s hoary code could reveal. But what this experience really reveals is that there are bugs in both Apple’s code and in the company’s customer service policies.

Stuff

Four Ways To Reduce Stress And Relax With Apple Watch, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Whether it’s something recurring in your daily life at work or home or an unexpected event, we all experience stress and anxiety in life. You may not have thought about it but if you have an Apple Watch, there’s a great tool on your wrist to offer some peace and calm. Follow along for four ways to reduce stress and relax with Apple Watch.

How To Clean Your Smartphone And Keyboard The Right Way, by David Nield, Wired

The good news is that disinfecting your phone and your other electronic gear doesn't need industrial strength chemicals or hazmat suits. You can do a very decent job of cleaning up your gear using the materials you've already got at home. It's also not necessary to clean your phone every time you go out—in fact it's probably bad for it to be scrubbed and wiped so often—but it's a good idea to do a quick wipe-down when you've been traveling, or after other people have used it, or at the very least every week or so.

DooriGo Keeps Users In Touch With Scheduled Check-ins, Alerts And More, by AppAdvice

Subscribers get a daily text at a time of their choosing. If they fail to respond within a certain timeframe, DooriGo alerts all nominated contacts via email to let them know that something might be amiss.

These alerts contain the GPS coordinates of the user’s last known location, so they’ll be easy to find. It’s also possible to store valuable information in encrypted messages that only the intended recipients can read: passwords, bank account numbers, instructions, the location of your will, and so on.

Develop

Apple Now Allows Push Notification Advertising, Updates Dating App Review Guidelines And More, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

Apple today updated its App Store review guidelines regarding some of the features introduced with iOS 13, besides the compatibility of apps with the latest iPhone and iPad models, and more.

Notes

Apple Might Start Making Travel Recommendations In Maps App, by Thomas Ricker, The Verge

Apple appears ready to add its own opinions about locations in its Maps app, much in the same way it curates the App Store with developer interviews, guides, and recommendations authored by Apple. At the moment, Apple relies heavily on third-party services like Yelp and Wikipedia to describe businesses and points of interest found in Apple Maps. Apple’s expanded editorial role is hinted at by a job description for an Apple Maps writer / editor position in California, which was posted on Monday.

My Late Husband Lives On In His iPhone, Now Used By Our 10-Year-Old Daughter, by Fernanda Santos, Slate

Navigating the bureaucracy of death is an unavoidable, time-consuming, and tedious affair. Call the bank to remove his name from our joint checking account, call credit card companies to cancel his cards, call the car insurance company to delete his vehicle from our policy, call to end the memberships he had and I couldn’t afford to keep. These are also one-dimensional tasks. No one can like, share, or comment on them. With his death, my husband killed their significance.

But there was one account I did not close, at least not entirely. On days that I missed him more than the usual everyday missing of him, I’d tell Siri to call him so I could see his name and number pop on the screen. I disconnected the line about a month after he died, but I still asked Siri to call him once in a while, even if it meant hearing a message telling me the customer I was trying to reach was unavailable. I also held onto the phone itself and to the number, paying $5 a month to make sure it wouldn’t be assigned to someone else—paying so that I could give it to our daughter, Flora, whenever the time was right.

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Do you pause Apple Music on your Mac when you get out of your room to get a drink of water so that you are not wasting Apple's data server resources to stream music out to your Mac where no one is there to listen?

I do.

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Thanks for reading.

The Sense-of-Self Edition Wednesday, March 4, 2020

How To Work From Home Without Losing Your Mind, by Brian Barrett, Wired

Yes, working from home has its perks. You’re always there to accept deliveries. You can play whatever music you want as loudly as you want. You don’t have abide the loud chewing or ungracious smells of your colleagues. But you also have to contend with the Scylla and Charybdis of isolation and distraction. Loss of productivity feels less urgent in the time of coronavirus. Spend enough time working alone, though, and you may start to lose your sense of self.

So! If your employer has asked you to stay home, here are some strategies for keeping it together, gleaned from someone who’s been doing it since “slack” was mostly a verb. Note: This is not a guide to responsible prepping, or washing your hands, or scavenging Purell, although by all means do those things. It's mostly a reminder to draw bright lines between work and the rest of your life. It also draws on my own experience, so it hopefully goes without saying that your mileage may vary.

What Happens If (And When) Apple Cancels WWDC 2020?, by Jason Snell, Macworld

If the company builds a system that allows developers to get time with Apple employees without making the trek to San Jose, maybe it could be used in other ways to facilitate the roll-out of new technologies and help developers who can’t attend pricey conferences get the most out of Apple’s stuff.

Apple Restricts Employee Travel To Italy, Korea On Coronavirus, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Employees are only allowed to travel to those regions for business-critical reasons and must get approval from a company vice president, Apple told staff in messages viewed by Bloomberg News.

The memo sent Monday evening also outlined the company’s procedures for handling the outbreak, including the encouragement of virtual meetings.

Virus Forces Apple To Temporarily Close Retail Stores In Italy, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

As demanded by a decree of the President of the Council of Ministers issued last week, all medium and large retail stores, as well as commercial establishments within shopping centers, in the provinces of Bergamo, Lodi, Piacenza and Cremona are to close on Saturday and Sunday to prevent spread of the new coronavirus. Similar measures were established for other provinces and territories.

Stuff

Apple No Longer Offers Personalized Engraving On Replacement iPods, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

In other words, if you have a damaged iPod touch, iPod nano, iPod shuffle, or iPod classic with an engraved message on it, and an Apple technician determines that the entire device needs to be replaced, Apple will simply provide customers with a non-engraved replacement from its repair inventory.

Why There's Nothing Wrong With Using GarageBand, by Dan Shaw, Happy Mag

GarageBand, while evolving to incorporate many professional features, still presents a simple, clean and user-friendly avenue for beginners to begin their music production journey. But it’s very user-friendliness and speed of workflow that have attracted many professionals, almost by accident.

It will never be able to match the specifications of some of the established professional level DAWs, nor does it want to. But as a way to execute ideas at speed and experiment with sound and structure, GarageBand has proven itself time and time again.

Claris Launches Connect To Make App Creation Faster For Business Users, by William Gallagher, AppleInsider

Using Claris Connect, developers in these firms will be able to create bespoke apps quicker than before, and they also benefit from how they can work with existing apps from other companies.

Black Ink Lets You Do Crossword Puzzles On Your Mac, by Connie Laubenthal, TidBITS

Overall, Black Ink is easy to use and a good fit for any puzzler from beginner to advanced, thanks in large part to its Reveal feature. If you already have a New York Times subscription, it’s a nice way to do the crossword puzzle digitally on your Mac.

Notes

Is The iPhone A Work Of Art?, by Rumaan Alam, New Republic

Weber isn’t actually arguing that the iPhone is a work of art. “The Bauhaus was a colony of artistic geniuses,” he writes. “Several individuals of unparalleled imagination and poetry were succored there. Nothing about the iPhone rivals their achievement.” Still, it’s not a stretch to argue the latter is designed to “ameliorate daily existence,” as Weber argues, and to do so with the charm of its own “aesthetic grace.”

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Maybe Apple should take this opportunity to start making WWDC more inclusive to many who cannot afford to attend?

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Thanks for reading.

The Night-Skills Edition Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Apple Announces Winners Of Its Night Mode Shot On iPhone Competition, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple today announced the Shot on iPhone winning photos for the contest it started in January. This year, applicants had to show off their skills using iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro Max, submitting their best Night mode shots.

Apple To Pay Up To $500 Million To Settle U.S. Lawsuit Over Slow iPhones, by Jonathan Stempel, Reuters

The preliminary proposed class-action settlement was disclosed on Friday night and requires approval by U.S. District Judge Edward Davila in San Jose, California.

It calls for Apple to pay consumers $25 per iPhone, which may be adjusted up or down depending on how many iPhones are eligible, with a minimum total payout of $310 million.

Classic iPod Hackers Say There's No Better Way To Listen To Music, by Melanie Ehrenkranz, Medium

Apple may have discontinued the last of the click-wheel iPods years ago, but Pichi is part of a growing community of tinkerers giving the devices new life. It’s not just for nostalgia (though that’s part of it): iPod modders say they earnestly view the devices, with a few modern tweaks, as a superior way to listen to music. That this elite audio quality is packaged in a device that is also dear to their heart makes it even better.

The more popular modifications are relatively simple: updates like adding more storage or battery life, or installing firmware that allows for customization of the user interface or downloading games outside of Apple’s ecosystem. Few iPod modders are injecting the music players with wild features or stark new aesthetics.

Stuff

Apple Celebrates International Women's Day By Highlighting Apps, TV Shows, Podcasts And More Made By Women, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple today formally announced its upcoming "She Creates" initiative at Apple Stores, which will see Apple host more than 5,000 Today at Apple sessions highlighting inspiring female creators using photography, design, technology, business, and film to "to address tough topics, explore new perspectives and empower their communities."

Mac Pro Review: Power, If You Can Use It, by Nilay Patel, The Verge

Now, there are major differences between the 2013 Mac Pro and this new machine — the most important being that Apple appears to have learned some key lessons from that machine. This new Mac Pro has far more raw capability, far more cooling ability, and far more room to grow than the old round Pro. But it’s still true that very little pro software really takes advantage of the technology bets Apple’s made with this machine, and it’s not a must-buy for every pro user until the software ecosystem evolves.

Apple Pro Display XDR Review: Category Of One, by Nilay Patel, The Verge

After several conversations, Apple told me that the goal with the Pro Display XDR was not to replace that Sony X300 OLED, but to provide a professional display with reference color modes and HDR capability so that more people could work on a display of this caliber. That’s a very noble goal, and viewed through that lens, the Pro Display XDR basically sits in a category of one: you would never, ever, use that Sony OLED reference display to crank on Excel or write code. It’s just not meant for that. The Pro Display XDR is far more flexible, can be used all day for office tasks, and be used for reference HDR color work in a pinch if you set it up exactly right.

Develop

Saving The iPad — Building An App For Myself, by Raheel Ahmad, Sakun Labs

I love seeing the iPad on my desk again, put to good use. Building something custom to bend the device to my needs feels good. It's obviously not everyone's cup of tea, but if you are not an iOS engineer, then maybe you have already put the iPad to good use in your day job.

Project LightSpeed: How Facebook Shrunk Messenger Down By 75%, by Harry McCracken, Fast Company

But now Facebook has put the iOS version of Messenger on an extreme weight-reduction plan. By rewriting it from scratch, it’s shrunk Messenger’s footprint on your iPhone down to an eminently manageable 30MB, less than a quarter of its peak size. According to the company, the new version loads twice as fast as the one it’s replacing. The update is so compact that Facebook was able to quietly build it into the existing version and test it by exposing it to a subset of users. (It will arrive in stand-alone form for the rest of us gradually over the coming weeks.)

As a giant piece of programming, the downsizing is even more dramatic. Messenger is going from 1.7 million lines of code to 360,000, for an 84% reduction.

Notes

Apple Affordable Housing Fund Opens For Projects, by Louis Hansen, San Jose Mercury News

Flush with tech funding, nonprofit Housing Trust Silicon Valley on Monday launched its first call to developers to tap into a $150 million Apple Affordable Housing Fund to build subsidized homes and apartments in the greater Bay Area.

The money is the first release of Cupertino-based Apple’s $2.5 billion commitment to support residential projects in the region through a wide variety of programs and initiatives.

iPhone Maker Expects China Plants To Return To Normal In Coming Weeks, by Debby Wu, Bloomberg

Hon Hai said Tuesday its factories are now operating at about 50% of seasonal capacity but that should ramp up over the course of the month as workers stream back into its plants.

Still, Chairman Young Liu warned it remained difficult to quantify the full impact of a weeks-long disruption, or gauge the effect on final demand for the swathe of consumer electronics it makes from laptops to game consoles.

The Level-of-Comfort Edition Monday, March 2, 2020

These iPhone Apps Know How You'll Spend And Save Money — Even Before You Do, by Greg Iacurci, CNBC

Now, financial firms are working to build second-generation services that automate even more of everyday financial decisions, making the process easier and more hands-off, especially for those who have a hard time budgeting, said Arielle O'Shea, a banking specialist at NerdWallet.

"If you're financially comfortable, you don't have to count [your] dollars," O'Shea said. "These apps are trying to bring that level of comfort to everyone."

Apple CEO Tim Cook Said The Trump Administration Directly Intervened To Help The iPhone Maker Break Into India, by Isobel Asher Hamilton, Business Insider

Tim Cook told Fox Business that local laws forcing it to partner with a local retailer is what prevented it entering the market for so long.

"I see India as a huge opportunity for us, for years we could not enter there unless we entered there with a partner [...] and we did not want to do that, we wanted to maintain control of our brand and so forth," he said.

Apple will no longer have to find a partner as, according to Cook, the Trump administration lobbied on Apple's behalf.

Develop

These Psychological Tips Will Stop You From Checking Your Email All The Damn Time, by Nir Eyal, The Next Web

I’d stopped charging my phone by my bed for some time, so that was no longer a problem. But to go a step further, I turned off email notifications on my phone. Not seeing the red jewel hovering over the Gmail app icon on my phone would reduce the temptation, or so I thought.

Unfortunately, that idea backfired. The app icon was still on the home screen, implicitly telling me what to do every time I used my phone. “Open me! I have something special for you!” it seemed to scream.

Although I can’t kill the email app on my iPhone completely (Apple doesn’t allow it), I did the next best thing. I buried it.

Notes

Why The Success Of The New York Times May Be Bad News For Journalism, by Ben Smith, New York Times

“The New York Times is going to basically be a monopoly,’’ predicted Jim VandeHei, the founder of Axios, which started in 2016 with plans to sell digital subscriptions but has yet to do so. “The Times will get bigger and the niche will get nichier, and nothing else will survive.”

Janice Min, the editor who created Us Weekly and reinvented The Hollywood Reporter, said the Times’s broadening content mix poses a formidable obstacle for other digital subscription businesses.

“Because we’re talking about the publishing business, it’s all still kind of sad, but in this parallel universe people talk about The New York Times in the way people in Hollywood talk about Netflix,” Ms. Min said. “It’s the tail that wags the dog, and it’s also the dog.”

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Sputtering air-con. Blinking cursor. Inmobile mouse. Hands on keybaord, and nothing in my brain. Good night. Thanks for reading.

The Backward-Compatible Edition Sunday, March 1, 2020

Interview: Nick Woods, by Hannah H. Kim, Increment

How we integrated the iCloud Photo Library with the existing photo apps on iOS and on Macs in a system that had been around for many, many years was really challenging, and we went into it thinking that it was going to be simpler than it was. We had to make sure it would work right out of the gate and work in a backward-compatible way.

Photo and video content [gets] used in so many different applications and in so many different places. We had applications that existed with local APIs that already could access your Camera Roll, for example. These apps needed the ability to suddenly access a photo that now might not be present on the device; you have to download it from the cloud, [and] you might not have network connectivity.

Another goal we had with iCloud Photo Library was to share as much code between internal native Apple platforms as possible—like iOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS—including APIs as well as daemon processes and other photo image and metadata-processing algorithms. We had to keep these in mind, along with the different resources and capabilities of each platform, while creating the layers of abstraction needed to support them and maximize code sharing and reuse. [It’s an example of] cross-platform support, a critical effort you’ll find at almost any consumer-focused company today.

Tot Is New Text Editor For Mac, iPhone, And iPad Focused On Constraints And Ease Of Use, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

I’ve been using Tot for a few days now, and I’ve found it to be an excellent alternative that forces me to only create a new note when I need to, and to delete or export a note when I’m finished with it.

The Difference Between Worry, Stress And Anxiety, by Emma Pattee, New York Times

Here’s the takeaway: Worry happens in your mind, stress happens in your body, and anxiety happens in your mind and your body. In small doses, worry, stress and anxiety can be positive forces in our lives. But research shows that most of us are too worried, too stressed and too anxious. The good news, according to Dr. Marques, is that there are simple (not easy) first steps to help regulate your symptoms: Get enough sleep; eat regular, nutritious meals; and move your body.

Apple Sends Care Packages To Employees Stranded In China's Wenzhou City And Hubei Province By Coronavirus, by Hartley Charlton, MacRumors

Apple has sent gift packages that include an iPad, face masks, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and more, to its employees stranded in Wenzhou and Hubei due to the coronavirus, according to details shared on Chinese social network Weibo.

The Gig Economy Has Never Been Tested By A Pandemic, by Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic

Gig-economy companies like Uber, Lyft, and Instacart have two distinct features. One, they are particularly popular in large urban centers, where they play a now-crucial role in transportation and the delivery of local goods. Two, California’s recent legislation notwithstanding, the labor platforms don’t have employees as they have traditionally been understood. Uber drivers and Instacart delivery people receive financial incentives to go work, but they are not compelled by a set work schedule.

These two factors make for all sorts of possible disruptions to normal life if a large-scale disease outbreak were to strike an American city. What will people who’ve grown used to Doordash delivery and Lyft rides do? How will the gig workers respond? What will the labor platforms do? What will local governments allow or attempt to compel?

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Long long time ago, I gave up trying to organize my email. No more different project folders. No more KIV folders. (Yes, once upon a time, I indeed have multiple KIV folders.) I wonder what the heck I was thinking. Now, I just throw everything in an Archive folder. Anything that is not in my to-do app, and anything that I can't search -- well, I'll just pretent they doesn't exist, and stop worrying.

I think I should also start to adopt the similar approach to my Notes.

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Thanks for reading.