Archive for April 2020

The Skip-to-Passcode Edition Thursday, April 30, 2020

Apple, Google Release Virus Contact-Tracing Tools To App Makers, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. and Google released the first versions of their Covid-19 contact-tracing tools to public health organizations on Wednesday so the agencies can start building applications ahead of the system’s launch in mid-May.

The tool set is a combination of software updates for iOS and Android, and software development kits to help developers build and test their apps. Apple released an early beta version of its software update that incorporates the technology, iOS 13.5, while Google is rolling out an update via its Google Play app store.

iOS 13.5 Beta Makes It Easier To Skip Face ID If You're Wearing A Mask, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

With this change, Face ID can detect if you’re wearing a mask and skip directly to the passcode screen if so. It’s impressive that Apple has developed it such that if you’re not wearing a mask, Face ID still works as normal, with the experience only being changed when you are wearing one.

Busy Group FaceTime Call? iOS 13.5 Lets You Turn Off Automatic Face Zooming, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The FaceTime app automatically enlarges the video window of the current person who is speaking. However, in a busy group call, there can be many people speaking at once and in short succession of each other. This causes the automatic focusing to constantly switch from person to person, which means the user’s avatars never stop growing and shrinking.

In iOS 13.5, Apple has added a new setting so you can disable this behavior.


New Apple Video Features Producer Oak Felder In The Studio, by Mike Peterson, AppleInsider

Apple has shared a new YouTube video featuring Grammy-nominated music producer Warren "Oak" Felder as he navigates a day of recording and mixing a song.

iPad Pro Diary: I'm Keeping The Magic Keyboard For Three Simple Reasons - 9to5Mac, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

First, and most importantly, the typing experience is really, really good. I still think it’s not quite up there with the 16-inch MacBook Pro, but it is very, very close. This is a great keyboard to use, and that impression hasn’t changed after writing some relatively lengthy pieces on it.

Second, the ease of attachment and detachment. This is a huge advantage over the Brydge keyboard. I really can’t overstate the benefit of this. Previously, I would tend to leave the keyboard attached more often than it was needed, simply because it was a pain to detach it for two minutes and then re-attach it. With the Magic Keyboard, that takes literally a second and zero effort. So it’s a tablet when I need a tablet, and a laptop when I need a laptop.

Due Adds Modern Shortcuts Support With New Reminder Creation Parameters, by John Voorhees, MacStories

By adding parameter support, users have more flexibility than before. Reminders can now be created wherever shortcuts are available, including from the Today widget and your Home screen, without the Due app ever opening. The updated Shortcuts support also bypasses the rather clunky verbal syntax that was previously required to trigger Due with Siri because now your shortcuts can be invoked by the name you give them.


Coronavirus Crunch For Apple TV+ As Disney Finds Solutions, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

So Disney will be able to leverage its back catalog, as well as movies filmed but not yet released. Apple TV+, in contrast, will have a much tougher time with its own coronavirus crunch. It’s believed that the company had not completed filming on upcoming seasons of The Morning Show, For All Mankind, and Servant when it was forced to stop filming, meaning it could be short of programming when it comes to persuading people to start paying for the service once their one-year trial ends.

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Apple will probably not be doing late-night talk-shows on Apple TV+, but maybe, in these times, it can try to convince Oprah to do another talk show?

Or how about animated shows? Can those be created during these times? Did someone check whether Trey Parker and Matt Stone have some free time?


Thanks for reading.

The Codenamed-Bubble Edition Wednesday, April 29, 2020

How A Handful Of Apple And Google Employees Came Together To Help Health Officials Trace Coronavirus, by Christina Farr, CNBC

In mid-March, with Covid-19 spreading to almost every country in the world, a small team at Apple started brainstorming how they could help. They knew that smartphones would be key to the global coronavirus response, particularly as countries started relaxing their shelter-in-place orders. To prepare for that, governments and private companies were building so-called "contact tracing" apps to monitor citizens' movements and determine whether they might have come into contact with someone infected with the virus.

Within a few weeks, the Apple project -- code-named "Bubble" -- had dozens of employees working on it with executive-level support from two sponsors: Craig Federighi, a senior vice president of software engineering, and Jeff Williams, the company's chief operating officer and de-facto head of healthcare. By the end of the month, Google had officially come on board, and about a week later, the companies' two CEOs Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai met virtually to give their final vote of approval to the project.

That speed of development was highly unusual for Apple, a company obsessed with making its products perfect before releasing them to the world. Project Bubble also required that Apple join forces with its historic rival, Google, to co-develop technology that could be used by health authorities in countries around the world.

Apple Adds COVID-19 Testing Sites To Maps Across The US, And Shares More Mobility Data, by Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch

Apple has now added COVID-19 testing sites to its Apple Maps app across the U.S., covering all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The update provides testing locations including hospitals, clinics, urgent care facilities, general practitioners, pharmacies and more, as well as dedicated COVID-19 testing sites, where tests are available. In addition, COVID-19 is now a prioritized point-of-interest option when you go to search for locations. Apple also updated its new Mobility Trends website, which provides free access to anonymized, aggregated data bout how people are getting around their cities and regions during the COVID-19 crisis.


Apple Support App For iPhone And iPad Revamped With New Interface, Dark Mode, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple says that the new version of the Apple Support app makes it easier for users to find step-by-step troubleshooting guides for their devices. A new “Products” interface also simplifies the process of finding information about all of your devices and services. The app opens to the details about the device you’re currently using.

How To Use Mac Recovery Mode, by William Gallagher, AppleInsider

It would be great if Macs just worked, and kept on working, but sooner or later you do hit problems and they can be severe ones. There can be any number of issues with your drive, or maybe there's a bug means you want to revert to an older version of macOS. Equally, you can have bought a secondhand Mac —or be about to sell yours that way.

If you have a Mac with a T2 Security Chip, then you have to use macOS Recovery Mode if you want to have the Mac boot from an external drive. For security, macOS Catalina simply will not boot from an external drive, unless you go through this process.

For that and each of these cases, there is macOS Recovery.

Todoist Launches 'Upcoming View' For Better Task Management On iPhone, iPad, And Mac, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Popular task management software Todoist is out with an update today across all platforms that brings a handy “Upcoming View” feature to make it easier to keep track of your GTD items.

Service Station Brings Control To Finder Menus, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

What Finder contextual menus aren’t, however, is flexible. Apps can shove items onto the main menu, and some do, but others don’t. User-created items are consigned to those submenus. There’s very little you can do as a user to customize that menu.

Or at least, there wasn’t before the arrival of Service Station, which lets you add apps and scripts to the top level of the Finder contextual menu. Any apps you want. Any scripts, too—shell scripts, AppleScript scripts, or Automator workflows.


Why Zoom Is Terrible, by Kate Murphy, New York Times

But there are reasons to be wary of the technology, beyond the widely reported security and privacy concerns. Psychologists, computer scientists and neuroscientists say the distortions and delays inherent in video communication can end up making you feel isolated, anxious and disconnected (or more than you were already). You might be better off just talking on the phone.

The problem is that the way the video images are digitally encoded and decoded, altered and adjusted, patched and synthesized introduces all kinds of artifacts: blocking, freezing, blurring, jerkiness and out-of-sync audio. These disruptions, some below our conscious awareness, confound perception and scramble subtle social cues. Our brains strain to fill in the gaps and make sense of the disorder, which makes us feel vaguely disturbed, uneasy and tired without quite knowing why.

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Good for Apple and Google. I wonder when they collaborate and need to do video-conferencing, do they use Facetime or Meet, or do they compromise, and use Zoom? :-)


Thanks for reading.

The Just-Works Edition Tuesday, April 28, 2020

No, The Best Doesn’t Win, by Shira Ovide, New York Times

People — and I’m including myself — tend to overthink why some companies and products last and others wither. Being the first or even the best at something may not matter.

Simplicity is the overlooked secret to success. “It just works” are magic words.

Six Lessons Learned From Dealing With An iMac's Dead SSD, by Adam Engst, TidBITS

There it was, Wednesday evening, and I was working hard to finish something for the day. Then I received an email from Watchman Monitoring, an essential tool used by sysadmins and consultants to keep track of Macs under their care, telling me about disk errors on my 2014 27-inch iMac’s SSD.

That was concerning, so I finished what I was doing, restarted in macOS Recovery by rebooting while holding down Command-R, launched Disk Utility, started First Aid, and went to make dinner, and promptly forgot about it. The next morning, however, I checked the iMac and discovered that First Aid had failed with an error -69842. Another try (which took longer than it should have) failed with the same error. I could find no indication of what that error meant, but Apple’s support documentation was pretty clear about the next step being a reformat and restore. At some point in that process, I booted the iMac successfully again, just long enough for Watchman Monitoring to send an even more ominous warning.

No Idea What to Expect

Apple's iPhones Got Hit By The Coronavirus. Now We'll Learn How Bad, by Ian Sherr, CNET

On Thursday, Apple will go from ringing the alarm to sharing the details when it releases its fiscal second-quarter results. Unlike in years past, investors have no idea what to expect. Many companies have withdrawn any guidance they gave to Wall Street, merely saying Apple won't meet whatever numbers they'd offered before.

Apple Retail Chief Sees ‘Many More’ Store Reopenings In May, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple Inc.’s retail chief told staff that she expects the company to reopen “many more” of its retail stores in May after closing all locations outside of China in March due to Covid-19.

Deirdre O’Brien, vice president of retail and people, made the disclosure in a weekly video update, according to retail employees familiar with the matter. She didn’t specify which stores or regions, but said “we are continuing to analyze this health situation in every location, and I do expect we will reopen up many more stores in May.” The company declined to comment.

Apple Park Will Have To Change, by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

These kinds of encounters in open plan office space designs really don’t seem so desirable now that enterprises and employees must learn to live with COVID-19. When almost anyone can carry the virus, spread it, and die as a result, encouraging teams to mingle and co-mingle no longer seems a good a plan.

This is going to demand major design transformations across most working spaces —and this must be part of the response to the disease. Even the most cynical business executive (and I’m sure there’s a few) will recognize that training staff costs money, so you want to protect the ones you’ve got.


PSA: iPhone SE's Haptic Touch Doesn't Work With Notifications And It's Not A Bug, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

On the 2020 ‌iPhone‌ SE, long pressing on a notification in the Notification Center or on the Lock screen does not appear to bring up rich notification options to allow ‌iPhone‌ SE users to interact with incoming content.

Today At Apple Performances You Can Watch At Home For Musical Inspiration, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Flagship stores around the world would normally be hosting musicians, photographers, artists, activists and more to share their creativity. These sessions are not typically recorded by Apple to be made available online later, but session attendees and artist friends often document the performances and upload their own videos.

Below, I’ve curated a playlist of some of the best Today at Apple Performances and Labs hosted by rising and established musicians that are available to watch online. From DJ beats to traditional Chinese instrumentation, there’s something new for everyone to learn at home.

HBO Max To Launch May 27 On Apple Devices; Current App Store Customers To Get Free Upgrade, by Brad Gibson, Cult of Mac

HBO Max will be available on all Apple devices when it launches on May 27 and will be fully integrated with the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV, WarnerMedia announced Monday.

Apple and WarnerMedia also announced that that existing HBO Now customers, billed through the App Store, and HBO subscribers who subscribe through ‌Apple TV‌ channels, will be upgraded to HBO Max at no additional charge.


NHS Rejects Apple-Google Coronavirus App Plan, by Leo Kelion, BBC

The UK's coronavirus contact-tracing app is set to use a different model to the one proposed by Apple and Google, despite concerns raised about privacy and performance.

The NHS says it has a way to make the software work "sufficiently well" on iPhones without users having to keep it active and on-screen.

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Last night, I woke up just after midnight, and made the mistake of just-take-a-glance-at-my-work-email-inbox, and couldn't get back to sleep until a few hours later. :-(

Lesson relearnt.


Thanks for reading.

The Exploit-Chain Edition Monday, April 27, 2020

Sneaky Zero-Click Attacks Are A Hidden Menace, by Lily Hay Newman, Wired

Even though the vulnerabilities ZecOps disclosed couldn’t be exploited for fundamental control on a target device, an attacker could still build a so-called “exploit chain” using the Mail bugs as just the first link to mount an invasive attack. And iOS security researcher and Guardian Firewall creator Will Strafach points out that while Apple and ZecOps are correct about the limited utility of the Mail bugs alone, it’s still important to take these types of bugs seriously.

Lots Of iPhone SE Components Are Swappable With iPhone 8 -- But Not All, by Luke Dormehl, Cult of Mac

The iPhone SE is, in many senses, an updated iPhone 8, packing new internals into a recognizable form factory. A teardown post published over the weekend by iFixit shows just how similar the two devices are: many parts of the handset are swappable with the earlier 2017-era phone.

As the publication’s teardown reveals, the iPhone SE’s cameras, SIM tray, Taptic Engine, and display assembly are all directly swappable with the iPhone 8. However, not all parts are so switchable. The iPhone SE’s battery might look the same, but it won’t work on the earlier iPhone due to a different logical board connector.


How To Use iCloud To Cope With A Mac That’s Low On Storage, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

iCloud is a solution for offloading on-device storage and offers a kind of loose backup of that material, too. [...]

Here’s a strategy for migration, if you’re comfortable with many of your files having the only copy living in iCloud.

8 Ways To Repurpose An Old iPhone Instead Of Selling Or Trading It In, by Jason Cipriani, CNET

Even with just Wi-Fi access and no cellular connection, your old iPhone can still be useful. For example, you can program it as a spare Apple TV remote, or repurpose it as a security camera to keep an eye on your front door.


Here are eight great, cheap or even free options for your old iPhone.

Apple Launches Customised Experience For Ramadan, by Khaleej Times

The iPhone maker on Sunday announced that it will be celebrating Ramadan by providing customers across the Middle East a unique and differentiated experience during the day and at night, both of which are highly-symbolic during the holy month.


As users' lifestyles and habits change before and after sunset during Ramadan, the App Store's day-to-night guide will showcase different apps and games that suit the distinct phases of the day.

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I'm sure Apple's customers have a lot of old iPhones and iPads (and iPods Touch?) that are not being used.

Apple should find a way to easily turn all these little computers -- armed with sensors and cameras and touch-screens -- into HomeKit accessories.


Thanks for reading.

The Decentralized-Approach Edition Sunday, April 26, 2020

Germany Flips On Smartphone Contact Tracing, Backs Apple And Google, by Douglas Busvine, Reuters

Germany changed course on Sunday over which type of smartphone technology it wanted to use to trace coronavirus infections, backing an approach supported by Apple and Google along with a growing number of other European countries.

Chancellery Minister Helge Braun and Health Minister Jens Spahn told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that Berlin would adopt a ‘decentralized’ approach to digital contact tracing, in so doing abandoning a home-grown alternative.

Apple Watch Five Years Later: What I Love And Hate, by Kate Kozuch, Tom's Guide

Have you ever held the Apple Watch in your hand, sans-bands? It feels like resting a teeny tiny iPhone in your palm. Try it the next time you’re switching your bands. While it might not be my favorite piece of tech, the Apple Watch fills me with geekiest joy in the world.

Microsoft Word Now Flags Two Spaces After A Period As An Error, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

If you have the double-space habit as a typist, you shouldn’t worry about it. Just go ahead and double-space and trust your software to do the right thing — either replacing your double spaces with a single space as you type, or collapsing them when you publish. Web browsers, for example, will do all do the right thing.

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If your weekend is different from your weekdays: enjoy!


Thanks for reading.

The Exposure-Notification Edition Saturday, April 25, 2020

Apple And Google Update Joint Coronavirus Tracing Tech To Improve User Privacy And Developer Flexibility, by Darrell Etherington, Natasha Lomas, TechCrunch

The additional measures being implemented to protect privacy include changing the cryptography mechanism for generating the keys used to trace potential contacts. They’re no longer specifically bound to a 24-hour period, and they’re now randomly generated instead of derived from a so-called “tracing key” that was permanently attached to a device. In theory, with the old system, an advanced enough attack with direct access to the device could potentially be used to figure out how individual rotating keys were generated from the tracing key, though that would be very, very difficult. Apple and Google clarified that it was included for the sake of efficiency originally, but they later realized they didn’t actually need this to ensure the system worked as intended, so they eliminated it altogether.


The companies will now also be encrypting any metadata associated with specific Bluetooth signals, including the strength of signal and other info. This metadata can theoretically be used in sophisticated reverse identification attempts, by comparing the metadata associated with a specific Bluetooth signal with known profiles of Bluetooth radio signal types as broken down by device and device generation. Taken alone, it’s not much of a risk in terms of exposure, but this additional step means it’s even harder to use that as one of a number of vectors for potential identification for malicious use.

Apple And Google Pledge To Shut Down Coronavirus Tracker When Pandemic Ends, by Russell Brandom, The Verge

On a call accompanying the announcement, representatives from each company pledged for the first time to disable the service after the outbreak had been sufficiently contained. Such a decision would have to be made on a region-by-region basis, and it’s unclear how public health authorities would reach such a determination. However, the engineers stated definitively that the APIs were not intended to be maintained indefinitely.

Why Apple And Google Are Moving Away From The Term 'Contact Tracing', by Richard Nieva, CNET

Apple and Google told reporters on a joint conference call that the new terminology is simply a more accurate description of the project. The shift is in a sense a rebranding effort, but it's more than cosmetic. Ditching a term like "tracing," which could have ominous connotations of surveillance, may go a long way in getting consumers to use the tools. Public perception of the project is especially important as tech companies contend with past privacy scandals that have cratered trust in the industry.


Magic Keyboard For iPad Pro Review: Living The Dream, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

The iPad Pro is a modular computer system, and you can choose to equip it to serve your needs. The Magic Keyboard gives the iPad Pro the ability to transform into a full-fledged laptop, complete with backlit laptop-style keys and trackpad.

Some people—and I am definitely in this group—have dreamed about a product like this for a long time. I couldn’t be happier that it exists. I haven’t traveled with a laptop regularly for years now. The Magic Keyboard lets my iPad Pro be a laptop when I need it to be—and the rest of the time, I can pull the iPad out of the Magic Keyboard and use it in tablet form.

Are You Charging Your MacBook On The Wrong Side?, by David Murphy, Lifehacker

Yes, you read that headline correctly. There is apparently a “right” way and a “wrong” way to connect devices to a MacBook with Thunderbolt/USB-C ports on both sides. Doing it wrong can affect your computer’s performance.

Halide Camera Adds Full iPhone SE Support, Including Portrait Mode For All Objects, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The rear camera of the iPhone SE includes support for Portrait mode, but with one limitation: it only works for people, not for all objects. A new update to the Halide Camera and Spectre Camera apps, however, adds support for the iPhone SE — including bringing Portrait mode to all objects.

How To Live Stream Your Wedding, by Daniel Bortz, New York Times

“Our wedding felt imperfectly perfect,” added Mr. Saadat, 31, a lawyer and property manager. “In all of its makeshift-ness, it also felt so intimate and personal.” The couple hope to eventually celebrate with all their guests in person but haven’t yet set a date.

Want to live stream your wedding? Here are a few tips that can help you broadcast your memorable event.


Why The Macintosh Idea Has Survived And Thrived Since 1984, by Marylene Delbourg-Delphis, Fast Company

Language drift reflects the gradual and often unconscious changes in natural languages. This drift translates into new words, new grammatical forms, new patterns of expression, and sometimes new behaviors. And this does take time! Similarly, the Macintosh Graphical User Interface was a new idiom. It was the first mass-market implementation of a new system of signs and symbols advocated by Douglas Engelbart; it was a new language that both rationally and by osmosis people started to speak. Once you had touched a Macintosh, you felt in control, and the “interface” of any other device, such as your VCRs or your LaserDisc players, came across as an impossible conversation.

Microsoft Word Now Flags Double Spaces As Errors, Ending The Great Space Debate, by Tom Warren, The Verge

Microsoft has settled the great space debate, and sided with everyone who believes one space after a period is correct, not two. The software giant has started to update Microsoft Word to highlight two spaces after a period (a full stop for you Brits) as an error, and to offer a correction to one space. Microsoft recently started testing this change with the desktop version of Word, offering suggestions through the Editor capabilities of the app.

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I've first started learning typing on a typewriter. A real typewriter, not one of those apps that is faking as a typewriter.

But, unless I am remembering wrongly, I've never did the two-spaces-after-a-period thing on a computer. I wonder why.


Thanks for reading.

The Insufficient-to-Bypass Edition Friday, April 24, 2020

Apple Finds No Evidence Hackers Exploited iPhone, iPad Mail Flaw, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple launched an investigation and said in a statement the mail issues were insufficient by themselves to allow cyber-attackers to bypass built-in security, adding it will issue a fix soon.

“We have thoroughly investigated the researcher’s report and, based on the information provided, have concluded these issues do not pose an immediate risk to our users,” the Cupertino, California company said. “The researcher identified three issues in Mail, but alone they are insufficient to bypass iPhone and iPad security protections, and we have found no evidence they were used against customers.”

PSA: New Character Bug In Messages Causing iOS Devices To Crash, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

There appears to be a new character-linked bug in Messages, Mail, and other apps that can cause the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch to crash when receiving a specific string of characters.

In this particular case, the character string involves the Italian flag emoji along with characters in the Sindhi language, and it appears the system crash happens when an incoming notification is received with the problem-causing characters.

The Apple Watch, Five Years In, by Stephen Pulvirent, Hodinkee

I thought a lot about how to approach putting this story together. Did I want to write the exhaustive history of the Apple watch? No, that's been done to varying degrees of specificity, and HODINKEE doesn't really seem like the right place for that anyway. Did I want to write a first-hand account of my own experiences with the Apple Watch, waxing poetic about both the emotional and practical push and pull of the tiny digital device? That felt a bit indulgent.

Ultimately, I settled on putting together a package that would offer up a look at how and why the Apple Watch continues to leave its mark on the watch world, touching on the various facets of that universe, from the economic impacts on the mechanical watch business to the fight for the wrists of die-hard enthusiasts to the thoughts of our own editors here at HODINKEE. This is an Apple Watch retrospective written from our perspective, and hopefully, I can convince even the most Apple Watch-skeptical among you to take this journey with me.


Don't Send Bands In With Apple Watch Repairs -- Because You Won't Get Them Back, by William Gallagher, AppleInsider

Apple has formally updated its advice to users on how to prepare an Apple Watch to be sent for repair, and now specifies that extra items, such as bands, will not be returned. Previously, the official advice was that you don't need to include them, but now you are explicitly asked to "please remove them."

Apple Music Heads To Samsung TVs With New App, by Eli Blumenthal, CNET

The new app, available today in over 100 countries on Samsung Smart TVs released from 2018 through 2020, will allow Apple Music subscribers to stream and play their music and Beats 1 radio on their televisions without having to first start it on an Apple device and then send it over via AirPlay.

Darkroom 4.6 Adds Video To Its Excellent Photo Editing Workflow, by John Voorhees, MacStories

What’s impressive about the update is that it manages to apply the same set of tools and filters available for photos to video in real-time, which results in a fast, efficient editing workflow.


Tim Cook Joins BBC Pandemic Relief Event, Promises Signficant Apple Donation by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Apple has been at the forefront of pandemic relief efforts by donating resources like masks, shields, financial support around the world, and more. Now, CEO Tim Cook appeared on the BBC and shared that Apple is making another big contribution to the network’s entertainment relief event “The Big Night In.”

Silicon Valley's Workaholic Culture Is Buckling Under The Strain Of Coronavirus, by Ian Sherr, CNET

"For people who have a family, you feel that you have to operate as if you don't," said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies. She's faced many of these struggles firsthand, sharing online about navigating life in the tech world while homeschooling her daughter. It's likely this crisis will change how we all prioritize life and family, she said. It may also change the culture at companies that have historically bristled at remote work, such as Google, Apple and Facebook.


Apple, meanwhile, said it's increased communications with managers and employees since the outbreak began. Its 137,000 employees have been encouraged to ask for help or accommodation, but managers as well have been told to proactively help employees too. That's meant offering flexibility, whether it's for parents working reduced schedules, or caregivers who have to take time off to take care of elderly family members.

"No deadline is too important, and no priority is more urgent, than caring for our loved ones. Our goal is to be flexible, collaborative and accommodating of every parent and caregiver on our teams," said Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet. "This is a trying time for everyone — especially parents — and we want to do all we can to support every member of our Apple family."

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I still do not understand why anyone will want Apple Music on their TV?

(At least from where I am, the music video section of Apple Music is not particularly impressive.)


Thanks for reading.

The Anonymous-Identifiers Edition Thursday, April 23, 2020

First Version Of Apple/Google Contact Tracing API Will Be Available On April 28, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The operating system will prompt users if they want to participate in contact tracing. Users will also need to download the respective public health app for their region. This app will collate the anonymous Bluetooth identifiers and can push alerts if a COVID-19 positive case is tracked nearby. Apple will not be approving any App Store app to use the contact tracing API, enforcing that there will only be one app supplied by the appropriate government health organization for each geographical region. Users will not be able to report themselves as positive without some kind of medical verification, to prevent trolling and abuse of the system.

Disable Mail

Researchers Say They Caught An iPhone Zero-Day Hack In The Wild, by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Motherboard

ZecOps, a company based in San Francisco, announced on Wednesday that a few of its customers were targeted with two zero-day exploits for iOS last year. Apple will patch the vulnerability underlying these attacks on an upcoming release of iOS 13.

“We concluded with high confidence that it was exploited in the wild,” Zuk Avraham, the founder of ZecOps, told Motherboard. “One of [the vulnerabilities] we clearly showed that it can be triggered remotely, the other one requires an additional vulnerability to trigger it remotely.”

iOS Mail Bug Allows Remote Zero-click Attacks, by Thomas Reed, Malewarebytes Labs

As for precautions to avoid infection, there are a couple things you can do. One would be to install the iOS 13.4.5 beta, which contains a fix for the bug. This is not something that’s easy to do, however, as you need an Apple developer account to download the beta. Plus, using a beta version of iOS, which may have bugs, isn’t recommended for all users.

The other possible security measure would be to disable Mail until the next version of iOS is released publicly.

Plant a Tree

Apple Celebrates Earth Day With Apps To 'Lend A Hand From Home,' 'Reconnect With Nature, More, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

When launching the App Store on iOS or your Mac, you’ll see the Earth Day app stories featured at the top. Apple has curated a thoughtful selection of apps to get involved with taking care of our planet, learning more about Earth, how to “search the web, plant a tree” and more.

Apple Environment VP Lisa Jackson Speaks About Apple's Renewable Energy Efforts In Earth Day Live Series, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Jackson went on to explain that every individual, business, and organization must take action to address climate change. "Policy is one solution, innovation is another," she said before delving into Apple's environmental efforts.

GPU Photography

Review: Apple’s Cheap And Cheerful iPhone SE, by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

The iPhone SE gets a boost from the totally new image pipeline of the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro. The ISP and the Neural Engine of the A13 processor give it more help in a variety of ways, especially given that so much of what makes up photography is in now really computer math.

Even with the painful lack of a telephoto lens, this is still one of the better smartphone cameras on the market because it has the full imaging pipeline of the iPhone 11 behind it. If it didn’t, I think that it would feel much ‘older’ in terms of imaging quality, but it speaks to how much of photography is driven by the CPU or GPU rather than the lens and sensor these days.

Apple iPhone SE Review: Everything You Need, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

Other than low-light photography, there’s virtually nothing that I do on those $1,000 phones that I can’t do equally well on the iPhone SE. It is fast, capable, reliable, and familiar. I’d miss those advanced features and more expansive displays, but not as much as you might think.

Coming Soon?

Apple Aims To Sell Macs With Its Own Chips Starting In 2021, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is working on three of its own Mac processors, known as systems-on-a-chip, based on the A14 processor in the next iPhone. The first of these will be much faster than the processors in the iPhone and iPad, the people said.

Apple is preparing to release at least one Mac with its own chip next year, according to the people. But the initiative to develop multiple chips, codenamed Kalamata, suggests the company will transition more of its Mac lineup away from current supplier Intel Corp.


The Heavy Truth About The iPad Pro’s Magic Keyboard, by Jason Snell, Macworld

With products like these iPad Pro accessories, I’m perplexed that anyone would view them as anything but optional parts. I realize that we’re not used to viewing an Apple product as a system of interconnected components, but that’s what the iPad Pro has turned into. It’s a powerful touch-based tablet with a collection of accessories that Barbie herself would be envious of.


This is where the iPad Pro is today. A core product surrounded by an array of optional accessories. If one of them doesn’t work for you, keep moving—there’s probably an alternative out there.

The Sweet-Spot Edition Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Why Apple’s iPad Is The Gadget Of The Pandemic, by Brian X. Chen, New York Times

With a bigger screen than an iPhone, the iPad excels at videoconferencing with apps like FaceTime and Zoom, and it’s great for watching movies and programs on Netflix and YouTube. When you attach it to a good keyboard, it becomes an excellent budget computer with a zippy internet connection for browsing the web, writing emails and composing documents. All for half the price of a regular iPhone.

“It’s really in that sweet spot of being relatively affordable and having everything I think most people will need,” said Nick Guy, a writer for Wirecutter, a New York Times publication that tests products.

Magic Keyboard For iPad Pro: A New Breed Of Laptop, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

If you pay attention when lifting the iPad, you’ll notice that the display turns on as soon as the iPad is detached from one half of the Magic Keyboard’s back cover; a few moments later, the Face ID sensor is activated and starts scanning. In practice, this isn’t just a delightful detail that proves Apple’s proverbial integration of hardware and software – it also means that by the time you’re done adjusting the iPad’s viewing angle, the iPad will have already authenticated you. At that point, it’s just a matter of pressing the space bar to dismiss the Lock screen and start working.


That said, I’m still adjusting to typing on the Magic Keyboard because one of my initial concerns has proven true: the bottom edge of the iPad’s display occasionally gets in the way of my fingers, resulting in accidental touches on the screen. I believe this is due to a combination of the way I type and how, at its widest viewing angle, the iPad’s bottom edge floats right above the keyboard’s number row.

This Is Not For Me, by Tim Nahumck

The Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro is sold in a particular way: as a keyboard, not a folio, and is for landscape orientations only. This would hinder the way in which I use the device for my day job.

Security Matters

New iOS Exploit Discovered Being Used To Spy On China's Uyghur Minority, by Catalin Cimpanu, ZDNet

Security firm Volexity said today that it discovered a new iOS exploit that was being used to spy on China's oppressed Uyghur minority.

The exploit, which Volexity named Insomnia, works against iOS versions 12.3, 12.3.1, and 12.3.2. Apple patched the iOS vulnerability behind this exploit in July 2019, with the release of iOS version 12.4.


Pixelmator 2.5 Brings Document Browser, New Photo View, And Extensive Presets To iPad And iPhone, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

By transitioning the app to the Files document browser, designing an all-new photo browser, and adding a rich collection of new image size presets, Pixelmator’s team has crafted the app’s biggest leap forward in years and set it up for a strong future.

NetNewsWire 5 For iOS Review: Venerable RSS Reader App Even Better On Mobile, by J.R. Bookwalter, Macworld

Where competing apps frequently get bogged down with complexity and feature bloat, NetNewsWire 5 for iOS remains lean and most importantly, free of the pesky bugs which increasingly seem to infect modern apps.


Chinese iPhone Factories Cut Workers As Demand Dips, by Ryan McMorrow, Financial Times

Foxconn, the contract manufacturer, has paused hiring at its huge factory complex in Zhengzhou, Henan province, which assembles iPhones, according to several workers.

They said that the plant, which employs hundreds of thousands of workers and is nicknamed “iPhone City”, has also begun to cut some of the temporary workers it hired in large numbers in February as it ramped up production after a long pause.

Bottom of the Page

My iPhone X is now just a widescreen iPod. I'm using my Mac as my internet-communicator. And I am not using the phone part of my iPhone at all.

And for the relative few minutes that I am outdoor daily, the FaceID is not working. And I only take my iPhone out of my pocket to adjust volume or skip to the next track.


Thanks for reading.

The Like-a-Laptop Edition Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Magic Keyboard Turns The iPad Pro Into Something That Resembles A Laptop, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

After giving in and providing a clamshell design and a trackpad, leaving both the Esc key and a function row out seems obstinate. You will still be reaching (or swiping) up to the Control Center to manage essential functions all the time.


It is an incredibly good, albeit expensive and heavy, way to use your iPad Pro like a laptop. If that’s what you want, this is a huge upgrade over what was available before, and you’ll love it. But what makes the iPad great is that it’s more than a laptop.

For all the other things I want to do with my iPad, the ergonomics of the Magic Keyboard are noticeably worse, which is why it’s nice that it’s so easy to remove the iPad and use it without a case at all. It makes the iPad a better iPad by its absence.

The iPad Magic Keyboard, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

Apple erred on the side of making the hinges and magnets too strong, not too weak, and once you grok that it’s a folding stand, not a folding cover, it is obvious that this is the correct design.


There are no F-keys (nor, obviously, a Touch Bar). I think this is partly philosophical, in that Apple intends iPad keyboards for typing only, not for controlling stuff in the system like display brightness or audio volume. But also this is practical — there’s really no room for a row of F-keys.

Apple’s Magic Keyboard Review: Laptop Class Typing Comes To iPad Pro, by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

If you work seriously with the iPad and that work is based on typing, the Magic Keyboard is essentially mandatory. It’s the dream keyboard for all of us who found ourselves crossing the Rubicon into iPad as primary computer over the past couple of years. It’s not without its caveats, but it is a refreshingly straightforward and well executed accessory that makes even older iPads feel like better laptops than laptops.

Security Matters

Webcam Hacking - Technical Walkthrough, by Ryan Pickren

Before I jump in, I want to start with a quote from an old colleague of mine - "Bug hunting is all about finding assumptions in software and violating those assumptions to see what happens." That is precisely what we are going to do today. We are going to dive into the murky depths of Safari and hammer the browser with obscure corner cases until we uncover weird behavior quirks. Once we collect enough quirks, we can tie them together into a full kill chain.

The camera security model in iOS and macOS is pretty intense. In a nutshell, each app must be explicitly granted camera/microphone permission, which is handled by the OS via a standard alert box.

But there is an exception to this rule.


Apple Launches App Store, Music, Arcade, Podcasts And iCloud In New Countries, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The expansion sees the App Store, Apple Arcade, Apple Podcasts and iCloud launch in 20 new countries. Meanwhile, Apple Music debuts in a total of 72 new markets. Users signing up to the Apple Music free trial in 52 of the new countries will be able to use the service for free for six months, compared to the usual three month trial offers.

2020 iPad Pro Floats Like A Hummingbird In New Apple Video, by Ed Hardy, Cult of Mac

The latest video from Apple shows off the best trick of the Apple’s Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro: it apparently makes the tablet float. A passing hummingbird stops by to see how the magic happens.


Apple Releases 'Works With Apple Health' Badge For Developers, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Apple has released new developer badge resources for those integrating third-party software with HealthKit. The update sees the launch of the “Works with Apple Health” badge.

Apple Invites Select Developers To Attend Accessibility Webinar Ahead Of WWDC 2020, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

While the idea of an interactive webinar is great for developers, it can be part of something bigger. As the company will soon hold its first fully online WWDC, this accessibility event may be the opportunity for Apple to test the platform that will be used to broadcast the Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

Improving Your Sleep Setup: A Guide To Optimizing Your Bedroom For Restful, Restorative Sleep, by Marius Masalar, The Sweet Setup

Over the past year, even before the current crisis, my wife and I have been slowly optimizing our bedroom to try and create an oasis of rest. Together with a more intentional bedtime routine, this series of subtle changes has utterly transformed our quality of sleep.

I’d love to share our approach in the hopes of inspiring similar changes in your own sleep setup.


France Says Apple’s Bluetooth Policy Is Blocking Virus Tracker, by Helene Fouquet, Bloomberg

France is asking Apple Inc. to remove a technical obstacle that it says is delaying a government contact-tracing application designed to contain the coronavirus spread.


“We’re asking Apple to lift the technical hurdle to allow us to develop a sovereign European health solution that will be tied our health system,” O said in an interview with Bloomberg. Ministers have discussed their concerns with Apple, but aren’t making progress, he said.

Bottom of the Page

With the Magic Keyboard for iPads, Apple is making sure its tablets can behave like laptops when required.

With the battery management stuff for MacBooks, Apple is also making sure its laptops can behave like desktops efficiently when needed.


Thanks for reading.

The Detach-From-Stand Edition Monday, April 20, 2020

12.9-inch iPad Pro With Magic Keyboard Weighs More Than A 13-inch MacBook Air, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The combined weight of 12.9-inch iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard is 1351 grams. A 13-inch MacBook Air actually weighs less, coming in at 1290 grams. Plus, the Air would feature a full size Force Touch trackpad compared to the smaller physical version on the iPad’s Magic Keyboard. The iPad Pro configuration actually closes in on the weight of a 13-inch MacBook Pro (1370 grams).


One nice thing about the iPad of course is you can quickly detach it from the stand and use it as a pure tablet.

iPhone SE Has Some Of The Best iPhone 11 Features, Including Wireless Charging, by Patrick Holland, CNET

That said, if you're still using an original SE, and are comfortable with a new phone that has a tiny increase in size and an enormous increase in features, functionality and future-proofing, then the new SE is definitely worth considering. And for those of you who want an iPhone 11 but at a lower price, the iPhone SE might be the compromise you're looking for.

Review: Logitech Combo Touch Keyboard Case With Trackpad For iPad 7, by Jeff Benjamin, 9to5Mac

Logitech’s Combo Touch not only protects the front and sides of your iPad, but it protects the rear as well. In fact, the entire iPad is fully protected, corner to corner, when the case is closed.

Of course, such protection comes at the cost of a slim and trim package. The iPad 7 is a fairly thin device on its own, but when adding the Logitech Combo Touch, it transforms into a relatively hefty package that’s much thicker than the same iPad when mated with Apple’s Smart Keyboard.

RAW Power 3.0, by Agen Schmitz, TidBITS

Gentlemen Coders has released RAW Power 3.0, a major upgrade to the professional image editor and Photos extension that makes it easy to perform non-destructive editing on raw images in your Photos library.

Kiwi For Gmail 2 Review: A Better Way To Experience G Suite On Your Mac, by J.R. Bookwalter, Macworld

At first glance, Kiwi looks like little more than the web-based G Suite disguised as an application—which it technically is—but small details make a big difference.

Kick The Shit Out Of Procrastination, by David Thrope

Only when we have learned about the weaknesses of our own procrastination can we kick the shit out of it. You can’t beat an opponent without knowing it intimately. We’ll get to know your procrastination intimately, and just when it begins to trust you we’ll take it out back like a loyal aged dog and pop it right in the back of the head.

A Story About Me, Two Apple Watches, And Five Lost Years, by Oliver Haslam, iMore

I'm not a fit person. I've spent too many years eating too much and working jobs that involve sitting at a desk. It isn't great, but I'm trying to fix that. And believe it or not, I'm doing it with the help of an Apple Watch.

Actually, that's a lie. I'm using two.

Bottom of the Page

Go ahead, buy two Magic Keyboard for your iPad Pro. One for home, and one for office. (When all these are over, of course.)


Thanks for reading.

The Back-to-Work Edition Sunday, April 19, 2020

'Needle In A Haystack': Reborn Tech Offices May Need Distance And Mass Testing, by Lauren Hepler, Matt Drange and Levi Sumagaysay, Protocol

As companies evaluate how to safely go back to work in anticipation of the day when government lockdowns lift, they are navigating an array of challenges. Executives are talking about restricting the number of employees onsite, perhaps by staggering shifts. They are looking to support workers through benefits like child care. Real estate firms that pioneered "6-foot offices" in China are coaching U.S. companies on spreading out workspaces. Ford is experimenting with wearable technology — like bracelets to buzz workers when they get too close.

And at the center of this planning is the most potentially difficult element: testing and tracking the virus. Companies are considering a variety of testing and contact-tracing systems, but as early movers like Color have discovered, rolling out mass testing is a balancing act that requires answering thorny questions about effectiveness, privacy, price and access, while keeping up with fast-moving science and managing unprecedented health risks.

Seoul’s Full Cafes, Apple Store Lines Show Mass Testing Success, by Kanga Kong, Bloomberg

Cafes bustled with customers, parks teemed with sunbathers, and the first Apple store to reopen outside China had lines snaking out the door as many South Koreans -- almost all wearing masks -- emerged from months of self-isolation.


The Apple store in the posh Gangnam neighborhood is the first location outside China to come back online since the iPhone maker shuttered all its stores in March to help curb the spread of the virus. It reopened China stores last month after virus cases there fell sharply.

Like many restaurants and stores in the country, Apple required customers to wear a mask, stand two meters, or six feet apart while waiting in line and have their temperatures checked before entering.


Early Hands-on Videos Provide Close-up Look At New Magic Keyboard With Trackpad For iPad Pro, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

It’s hard to tell too much from a short video, but the hinge does appear to be pretty strong. This is underscored in a second video from the same user, which shows the different angles of the hinge design and how to adjust between them.


Finally, there appears to be a decent amount of key travel with the Magic Keyboard’s scissor switch design.

Hands-on: Logitech's iPad Trackpad Keyboards Create $500 Apple Laptops, by Jeremy Horwitz, VentureBeat

The real star of the show here is a trackpad, which feels like it’s made of glass and has an older Apple-style springboard design for physical button presses. There’s enough space for four adult fingers to rest across the surface comfortably from their tips to their middles, and the glass feels cool to the touch. It’s also pretty responsive, though I’ll want more time to play with it using specific iPad work apps, as well as even more customization within future versions of iPadOS.


Apple Shares New Documentation On How To Make Your Own Face Shield, by Frank McShan, MacRumors

Apple has recently shared a new support document on how to make your own face shield. The support document does mention that the manufacturing of face shields should only be carried out by an expert.

Bottom of the Page

I look forward to, one day, sit in a coffeeshop, drink a cup of coffee, and do nothing.

(As opposed to now, sitting at home, drinking coffee, and doing nothing.)


Thanks for reading.

The Tips-and-Ideas Edition Saturday, April 18, 2020

New Today At Apple At Home Videos Will Arrive Weekly; GarageBand Session Added, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Creative Pros from Apple Stores across the world are gathering their best tips and ideas to design inspiring projects you can try at home with just an iPhone or iPad. Today at Apple at Home is a digital extension of Apple’s in-store creative sessions, and a new session has launched just in time to explore over the weekend. Apple is now promising that new videos will be posted weekly.

Why Apple Has Stopped Making Small Phones—and Why It Should Start Again, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Consumers who were hoping for the return of the 4-inch display, or maybe even a slightly larger display but in the same grip size as the original SE, were likely disappointed by this week's announcement. Apple is not alone in skipping smaller handset offerings; there aren't many small Android phones left, either.

There are reasons for this trend that make sense both for the tech company and the consumer, but there are also reasons Apple shouldn't turn its back on a minority of consumers who still want—or even need—smaller phones.


New iPhone SE Ad Shows Oddly Satisfying Task Of Peeling Off The Protective Film, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Peeling the protective film off a new iPhone has always been an oddly satisfying part of the unboxing process, to the point that it has become somewhat of a meme, and now Apple is getting in on the amusement.

Farrago Audio Soundboard App For Mac Gets App-wide Volume Ducking, New MIDI Controls, List Mode, Much More, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Rogue Amoeba is out with a big update to its popular Farrago audio app for Mac. The “rapid-fire soundboard” software now features a brand new list mode, app-wide volume ducking, per-tile output controls, new MIDI controls, and much more.


I Tried To Write An Essay About Productivity In Quarantine. It Took Me A Month To Do It., by Constance Grady, Vox

Perhaps this is also the time to make our off hours very productive, because you never know when you’ll need a new hobby you can turn into a side hustle in times like these. At the very least, staying busy and using your time meaningfully will be the virtuous thing to do, and it will keep your mind off everything else that is happening ... right?

Unless that line of thought is yet another sign of capitalism getting into our heads, and we really need to process and mourn and deal with the overwhelming and exhausting anxiety of living through a once-a-century pandemic. Maybe?

In the end, it all boils down to one question: Under these very peculiar circumstances, should we be trying to be productive?


An Apple Veteran Will Take Over The Beats Headphones Business, by David Carnoy, CNET

Longtime president Luke Wood is exiting and veteran Apple exec Oliver Schusser, who heads up Apple Music and International Content, is taking over at the end of this month.

Apple hasn't publicly announced the leadership change, but Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, told Apple employees about the transition via email in recent weeks. A Beats spokesperson confirmed to CNET that Schusser will lead Beats after Wood's departure on April 30. Schusser will also continue to run Apple Music and International Content, reporting to Cue. The consolidation is a homecoming of sorts for Apple Music, which was built on the backbone of the earlier Beats Music streaming service.

Bottom of the Page

I have no desire to get a small phone. But I would very much like a light (as in weight) phone.

Of course, I also want long battery life. Which probably mean the phone will not be light.


Thanks for reading.

The Charging-and-Discharging Edition Friday, April 17, 2020

Apple Changes Default MacBook Charging Behavior To Improve Battery Health, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Apple changes default MacBook charging behavior to improve battery health, enables a new default approach to charging and discharging MacBook batteries. According to Apple, the feature is meant to reduce the rate of chemical aging of the MacBook’s battery, thereby extending its long-term lifespan—but without compromising on day-to-day battery life.

The feature works by analyzing the temperature of the battery over time, as well as the charging pattern the laptop has experienced—in other words, does the laptop frequently get drained most of the way and then recharged fully, or is it mostly kept full and plugged in?

For Many Years to Come

The New iPhone SE Is A Shockingly Good Value, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

The most important thing to know about the SE’s value proposition is simply that it has the A13 Bionic processor, which is bar-none the fastest processor you can get on any smartphone at any price, full stop. You could spend $1,449 on a fully maxed-out iPhone 11 Pro Max and it wouldn’t be faster than the iPhone SE. You could spend $1599.99 on a maxed-out Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G and it would be theoretically slower (with the exception of 5G downloads).

This isn’t just a matter of processor megahertz per buck, it’s a matter of the longevity of the phone itself. More than any other phone company, Apple supports its phones for a very long time. Since this iPhone SE has the most modern processor available, it’s quite likely that it will receive software updates for many years to come.

Large Size Of Apple’s New Low-Cost iPhone SE Disappoints, by Adam Engst, TidBITS

Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, is quoted in the iPhone SE press release as saying, “The first iPhone SE was a hit with many customers who loved its unique combination of small size, high-end performance and affordable price.” That’s absolutely true, especially the “small size” part. However, then he goes on to say, “the new second-generation iPhone SE builds on that great idea and improves on it in every way.” No. When small size is the key feature, “improved” would require that it get smaller, not larger.

Sorry, Apple hates you and your tiny hands. And your small pockets.

Privacy Matters

NHS In Standoff With Apple And Google Over Coronavirus Tracing, by Alex Hern, The Guardian

“The important thing here is, if you want your iPhones to work with this in your country, then you’ll need to effectively adhere to Apple’s standard of privacy for the system,” said Dr Michael Veale, a lecturer in digital rights and regulation at UCL.

“Apple have said that the standard of privacy that they are demanding is a decentralised system. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to get iPhones to work with it without a workaround that will just stop people using it.”

ACLU Gives Apple/Google Coronavirus Contact Tracing API A Mixed Reception, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has praised some aspects of the Apple/Google coronavirus contact tracing API, while saying that the companies need to do better in three areas.


Apple Music On The Web Exits Beta, by Eric Slivka, MacRumors

Once you're signed into the web version of ‌Apple Music‌ with your Apple ID that has an associated ‌Apple Music‌ subscription, you'll have access to all of your library and playlist content, as well as the same personal mixes and recommendations you'll see in the Music apps for iOS, Mac, and Android.

Zoom Repairs Flaws And Improves Privacy, by Glenn Fleishman, TidBITS

Zoom continues to squash bugs while making good on its promises of the last few weeks to respond rapidly. To regain the trust of those who have been troubled, to put it mildly, about Zoom’s past lapses, the company will have to continue down this path of improved security and privacy and increased transparency, while maintaining the high levels of quality and performance that have made it one of the most popular options for videoconferencing during the pandemic.

We suspect that Zoom will never be able to recover from its mistakes in the eyes of some people. For those who aren’t as adamantly opposed to the company, however, it does seem that the company is both saying the right things and working hard to move in the right direction. For a recent TidBITS staff call, we tried Skype for about 5 minutes and were plagued with audio dropouts and other issues. When we switched to Zoom, the audio and video were rock-solid for the remainder of the hour-long call. We’ll continue to test other options, but Zoom has set the bar high.

TV Forecast Review: An Elegant Way To Track Your Favorite Shows, by John Voorhees, MacStories

TV Forecast elegantly combines a simple, modern design aesthetic with smooth, fluid UI that carefully balances the shows you already watch with effortless browsing of new shows.


The Buy-Nothing Home Office, by John Herrman, New York Times

Whether you are working, avoiding work, balancing work with care for others or looking for work, chances are your temporary office is neither an optimized nor particularly happy place right now. I have no tips for optimizing it, in the aspirational work-from-home, escape-the-office sense.

Let’s lower our expectations. Here are a few ways to make working from home less miserable, according to experts.


During Coronavirus Quarantine, Apple Watch Is A Fitness Friend, by Buster Hein, Cult of Mac

Even people who never realized Apple Watch’s awesome motivational power are standing up and testifying: The device helps get your butt up off the couch during the coronavirus quarantine.

“It’s fantastic that a gadget was the thing I needed to get myself in shape again,” said Sune Holt, an Apple Watch wearer from Denmark. “In November, I feared I wasted my money. Now it’s the best investment in a lifetime.”

Apple CEO Talks Covid-19 Crisis, Return To Work Plan At Company-Wide Meeting, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

“If we stay focused on doing what we do best, if we keep investing, if we manage the business wisely and make decisions collaboratively, if we take care of our teams, if our teams take care of their work, I don’t see any reason to be anything but optimistic,” Cook, who has been Apple’s top executive for nearly a decade, told staff.

When asked about potential job cuts, the CEO reiterated Apple’s strong financial position and pointed out that it has been paying retail employees while stores are closed. He also said the company is impacted by the crisis, while noting his focus is on running Apple for the long-term rather than making short-term adjustments.

The Smaller-Than-11 Edition Thursday, April 16, 2020

Apple Launches New 4.7-inch iPhone SE At $399, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Today Apple announced the successor to 2016’s iPhone SE, a new model that retains the same name and goal of being the budget option for customers. The new iPhone SE will be available for pre-order this Friday, April 17, it ships one week later on April 24, and starts at $399, the same price the original SE had when it launched. Unlike that original model, though, the new SE carries an altogether different form factor. While the original SE was based on the iPhone 5’s 4-inch design, the new SE resembles the iPhone 6/7/8’s 4.7-inch design. This makes it notably larger than the previous iPhone SE, but still smaller than any of the flagship iPhone 11 line.

The iPhone SE 2’s Camera Setup Is Going To Lean On Apple’s Software, by Jon Porter, The Verge

There are inevitably going to be areas where the iPhone SE 2’s hardware will be a limitation. For example, there’s no wide-angle lens here, and no amount of software processing is going to be able to capture data from outside of the main camera’s field of view. But in those cases where you’d normally only rely on the phone’s main camera, Apple’s updated software could do a lot more of the heavy lifting, and we’ll get our best look yet at how far it’s come.

Apple Releases Leather And Silicone Cases For New iPhone SE, Priced From $35, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

iPhone SE leather cases are available in three colors: midnight blue, black, and PRODUCT(RED). You can order the leather cases now, with deliveries starting on April 17.

Apologies To Those Looking For A Smaller Phone, by Dan Seifert, The Verge

It’s been a bad year for small phone lovers. It’s no secret that the average size of new smartphones has increased dramatically over the past few years. But this year it feels like the idea of a small phone you’d actually want to use as a primary device (read: not whatever that Palm phone was trying to be a couple years back) is truly dead and gone.

iPhone 8 And iPhone 8 Plus Discontinued, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

The second-generation iPhone SE is essentially an upgraded iPhone 8, with a 4.7-inch display and Touch ID home button, but with a faster A13 Bionic chip. As of now, there is no Plus-sized version of the new iPhone SE, so there is no direct replacement for the 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus, although rumors suggest that an iPhone SE Plus is under development.

Coming Soon Too

The Trackpad-equipped Magic Keyboard For The iPad Pro Is Now Available To Order, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Apple has started taking orders for its trackpad-equipped Magic Keyboard peripheral for the iPad Pro, and it plans to put units in buyers’ hands as early as next week. The company previously announced that the peripheral was coming in May, so this is a little ahead of the previously described schedule.

Apple Now Sells Mac Pro Wheels And Feet From $299 To $699, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

An aggressively priced iPhone SE isn’t the only new hardware coming from Apple today. Apple is also selling replacement kits for Mac Pro feet and wheels, and they’re aggressively priced in a totally different way.

Apple Begins Selling AirPods Pro Replacement Ear Tips Through Its Online Store, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

AirPods Pro feature an in-ear design with three sizes of soft, flexible silicone tips included in the box, and if you happen to lose those tips, Apple now sells replacements through its online store. The replacement tips will likely also be stocked at Apple Stores, although all locations outside of Greater China remain closed.

Coming Soon?

Apple Developing High-End Headphones With Interchangeable Parts, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. is developing over-ear wireless headphones with parts that can be swapped in and out, seeking to augment its AirPods business with a high-end audio product, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Cupertino, California-based tech giant is working on at least two variations, including a premium version with leather-like fabrics and a fitness-focused model that uses lighter, breathable materials with small perforations, the people said.


Cheaper Logitech Magic Keyboard Alternative For Older iPads Now Available To Order, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

After the surprise announcement that the Magic Keyboard for iPad will be available sooner than originally announced, the cheaper Logitech alternative which fits Apple’s non-Pro iPads is also shipping now.

Five Apps That'll Take You On A Virtual Trip Around The World, by Justin Connolly, Manchester Evening News

We all know there are far worse things going on in the world right now than a cancelled holiday.

But if you're stuck at home when you should have been spending the Easter holidays in the sun somewhere, you might be feeling some wanderlust kicking in.

While it’s not possible to travel the real world at the moment, you can still take a virtual trip across the globe and beyond with these apps.

Pokémon Go Adds Remote Raids So You Don’t Have To Go Outside, by Sam Byford, The Verge

Niantic has been tweaking Pokémon Go in an effort to make it more playable from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and today it’s announcing one of the biggest changes yet: raid battles will soon be accessible remotely. The company is adding a new item called a Remote Raid Pass to the in-game store, letting you play raids that appear on the app’s map or “nearby” page without having to go to the physical location.


Apple To Redirect (PRODUCT)RED Proceeds To COVID-19 Relief Efforts Through September, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple today announced that it is partnering with (RED) to redirect 100 percent of eligible proceeds from purchases of its (PRODUCT)RED products to The Global Fund's newly established COVID‑19 Response Mechanism, through September 30.

Apple's Only Retail Store In South Korea Reopening April 18, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Apple closed all of its retail stores outside of Greater China on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic. After more than a month of closures, Apple’s only store in South Korea is scheduled to reopen to customers at a reduced capacity on April 18.


Conditions in the United States have pushed back store reopening timelines until May at earliest, and regions like Singapore have seen an uptick in new coronavirus infections following initially successful mitigation. Apple is choosing to reopen in South Korea due to the country’s adequate response to the crisis.

Bottom of the Page

Looks like if you want a smaller phone, perhaps the answer is in the Watch section?


Thanks for reading.

The Mass-Surveillance Edition Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Apple’s Most Important Role: Keeping Privacy At The Forefront, by Jason Snell, Macworld

Yes, mass surveillance is creepy and terrifying when it isn’t saving lives. That’s why I’m glad that Apple is stepping up and putting its energy into this project—because sometimes it feels like Apple is in a unique position to steer our world away from the most negative possible uses of technology and toward a more private and transparent future.

Apple Opens Access To Mobility Data, Offering Insight Into How COVID-19 Is Changing Cities, by Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch

For an individual, this is more or less a curiosity, but the release f this info could be very useful for municipal, state and federal policy makers looking to study the impact of COVID-19, as well as the effect of strategies put in place to mitigate its spread, including social distancing, shelter-in-place and quarantining measures.


Beats Solo Pro Review: Apple's On-ear Noise Cancelling Headphones, by Samuel Gibbs, The Guardian

They sound good, have solid noise cancelling and are comfortable and stable on your head. Bluetooth connectivity is rock-solid and the battery lasts long enough for the weekly commute or flights.

Apple’s H1 chip enables a whole host of convenient features with the firm’s devices, while the Beats app brings some of them to Android, too.

PDF Expert’s New Reading Mode Offers The Best iPhone PDF Experience, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

PDF Expert is launching a new feature today, Reading Mode, which offers easily the best PDF reading experience available on iPhone. When viewing a PDF in the app, there’s a new button in the bottom-right corner that opens Reading Mode. This mode takes the contents of the PDF, converts it to a simplified layout that’s optimized for your device’s size, and provides custom view settings you can tweak to your liking. It reminds me a lot of Safari’s own Reader view, but for PDFs rather than websites.

Eve For HomeKit iOS App Gets Update With Fullscreen Camera Feature, iCloud Sync For Settings, More, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Popular HomeKit device maker Eve has launched its latest iOS app update to let customers take better advantage of cameras, sync settings between your devices with iCloud, and offer new customization options for “rooms.”

HomePass 1.7 Brings Refreshed UI, Customizable Data Fields, And Improved Shortcuts Support, by John Voorhees, MacStories

With the latest update, HomePass has added greater flexibility and a more compact UI that works better with larger collections of HomeKit devices. For instance, sometimes you want to add more information about an accessory than is available in the Home app. With version 1.7 of HomePass, you can now add custom fields to a device’s entry to collect additional details. I’ve been satisfied with the existing fields that are auto-filled from the Home app, plus HomePass’s notes section, but it’s also something I’m glad will be available if the need arises for me in the future.

Satechi Debuts New USB-C Wireless Charging Dock For AirPods And AirPods Pro, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

The USB-C Wireless Charging Dock for Apple ‌AirPods‌ is a small, portable dock that plugs into the Mac and then allows the ‌AirPods‌ to rest on top while charging. An included LED light lets you know the ‌AirPods‌ are charging, and a lip around the edge keeps the ‌AirPods‌ in place.

iClock Review: Amazingly Versatile, Super Customizable Mac Menu Bar Clock, by J.R. Bookwalter, Macworld

iClock offers a world of customization possibilities from a single menu, including handy widgets like a stopwatch and countdown timer.

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Some of us trust (some) governments more than companies. Some of us trust (some) companies more than governments. I wish the latest cooperation between Apple and Google will expand to more projects between companies and governments where mulitple parties hold multiple keys, and we need everyone to agree to unlock private data.


Thanks for reading.

The Bake-into-OS Edition Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Apple And Google Discuss Their Coronavirus Tracing Efforts, by Zack Whittaker, Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch

Apple and Google said they will roll out software updates in mid-May to begin support for contact tracing. Public health authorities will incorporate the contact tracing API into their apps, which can then be downloaded from the Apple and Google app stores. The companies said they will bake the contact tracing feature into iOS and Android in the coming months, so that users won’t even have to install an app. The companies said this would help get more people using the system.

Even when the contact tracing feature is baked into the OS at the system level, any detection of a positive match would still prompt the user to download the relevant public health app for their region to receive more information about what the COVID-19 contact tracing process is, and next steps.

Apple Responds To Senators Questioning Privacy Of Covid-19 Tools, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple said it “drew upon its engineering and clinical resources to help develop a new Covid-19 website and Covid-19 app” at the request of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and outlined the privacy protections in its agreement with the agency. Apple said the tools, which are available as an app and on the web, aren’t subject to HIPAA guidelines and said it doesn’t collect any personal data from individuals.


A Trackpad And A Mouse Walk Into An iPad…, by M.G. Siegler, 500ish

Once you get in the swing of things, using the iPad with a trackpad/mouse plus keyboard feels faster than using it with touchscreen plus keyboard. Perhaps that’s just because I have 30-plus years of experience using the older school computing paradigm. But I’ve long been a heavy, heavy iPad user, and this just feels faster for whatever reason.

Popular Note-taking App GoodNotes Launches Universal Version For iPhone, iPad, And Mac, by Cam MacMurchy, 9to5Mac

However, if you only purchased the macOS app, it will continue working for you but won’t receive any software updates. Otherwise, you’ll need to purchase the macOS version a second time. GoodNotes assures us, though, that only a tiny fraction of customers used the Mac app on its own, without the iPad/iPhone versions.

Adobe Updates Premiere Pro With New Collaboration Tools, 3D Text Added To Dimension, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Today’s headline feature is Productions, a new toolset for Premiere Pro first previewed in January at the Sundance Film Festival. Productions is a system of organization that Adobe hopes will improve workflows for feature film, broadcast, and and web-based episodic content.

Bar None: Avoid Accidental Touch Bar Taps, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

If you are finding yourself accidentally triggering Siri or other application shortcuts, you’ll want to check our Bar None.

NapBot Sleep Tracker Updated With More Powerful Apple Watch App, New Deep Sleep Data, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

NapBot is a powerful third-party sleep tracking application for Apple Watch powered by CoreML. A new update for the app brings additional independent Apple Watch features, as well as a new deep sleep trend analysis option for users.


HomePod Now Runs On tvOS, Here’s What That Could Mean, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

9to5Mac has analyzed the latest HomePod firmware available and found something unexpected: starting with version 13.4, the HomePod operating system is now based on tvOS, instead of iOS. But what exactly does that mean for the rest of us?


While the fourth generation Apple TV (the HD-only model) also runs with the A8 chip, it will probably not be discontinued this year. If Apple wants to keep the HomePod updated for a longer time, it makes sense that the HomePod Software should be based on the next version of tvOS instead of iOS 14 due to the A8 chip support.

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Sleep well. Eat well. Stay safe.


Thanks for reading.

The Flat-Edges Edition Monday, April 13, 2020

Apple Plans iPad-Like Design For Next iPhone, Smaller HomePod, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

This year’s successors to the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max will be joined by two lower-end models to replace the iPhone 11. At least the two high-end devices will have flat stainless steel edges instead of the current curved design as well as more sharply rounded corners like the iPad Pro introduced in 2018. Reminiscent of the iPhone 5 design, the new handsets will have flat screens rather than the sloping edges on current models, said the people asking not to be identified because the plans aren’t public.

Apple has also been developing a smaller and cheaper version of its HomePod speaker, to be released as early as this year, and so-called Apple Tags that will let users track real-world objects like keys and wallets, according to people who’ve seen prototypes.


StoryCut - Review, by AppAdvice

StoryCut has everything. You can perform every edit imaginable, and the interface is intuitive enough to allow you to do it in no time at all. It’s entirely conceivable that you could have a video or slideshow with sound effects, cuts, transition, custom audio, double-exposure effects, and picture-in-picture ready in under five minutes.

Anyone's A Celebrity Streamer With This Open Source App, by Klint Finley, Wired

OBS Studio offers customization and other advanced features that are easier to use than those in other free recording tools.

Five Free Fitness Apps To Help You Stay In Shape At Home, by Jason Cross, Macworld

So we put together this list of five fitness apps that can help you stay healthy at home. One is totally free, and the others offer in-app purchases but have plenty to offer without spending a penny.


How Microsoft Messed Up Skype’s Big Opportunity: 'A Sad Story Of A Great Brand', by James Titcomb, The Telegraph

While Skype had been very much a product for consumers in its early days, after various redesigns under Microsoft it seemed unclear whether that was still the case. “Microsoft didn’t put the A-team on it,” says Hartenbaum.

Burbidge has a simple explanation for Skype's decline: “What really helped the service to take off and what made it such a success was its fundamental call quality, and how well it simply worked in 2004 and 2005,” she says. “I don’t think the subsequent corporate owners were able to maintain that level of product and call quality.”

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iPad-like flat-edges? Are we looking at Apple Pencils for iPhones?


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The Do-Something-Itis Edition Sunday, April 12, 2020

Contact Tracing In The Real World, by Ross Anderson, Light Blue Touchpaper

All that said, I suspect the tracing apps are really just do-something-itis. Most countries now seem past the point where contact tracing is a high priority; even Singapore has had to go into lockdown. If it becomes a priority during the second wave, we will need a lot more contact tracers: last week, 999 calls in Cambridge had a 40-minute wait and it took ambulances six hours to arrive. We cannot field an app that will cause more worried well people to phone 999.

The real trade-off between surveillance and public health is this. For years, a pandemic has been at the top of Britain’s risk register, yet far less was spent preparing for one than on anti-terrorist measures, many of which were ostentatious rather than effective. Worse, the rhetoric of terror puffed up the security agencies at the expense of public health, predisposing the US and UK governments to disregard the lesson of SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2015 — unlike the governments of China, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea, who paid at least some attention. What we need is a radical redistribution of resources from the surveillance-industrial complex to public health.

Apple Maps Will Soon Display COVID-19 Testing Locations, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple has launched a portal for hospitals, healthcare providers and businesses to register as a COVID-19 testing location. Apple will review the application and when approved, the location will start appearing on Apple Maps.

The testing locations will appear with a red medical glyph icon, and a special banner in the Apple Maps card.


Nasty macOS Flaw Is Bricking MacBooks: Don't Install This Update, by Paul Wagenseil, Tom's Guide

A new macOS update is causing more problems than it fixes, with Mac users reporting a host of nasty problems — including bricked MacBooks.

What's So Special About The New Mac Mini For 2020? Is It Worth It?, by Sergio Velasquez, iDropNews

The best things about the Mac mini are its size and ports. You can still be connected no matter where you are, although you’ll need a power source and a screen.

Another great thing about the Mac mini is that it’s customizable. You can add more storage and improve its processor. The downside is that you can’t upgrade it for yourself. Most of the time, you’ll need to go to Apple so they can upgrade your mini after its initial purchase.

The App That Wants You To Treat Self Care Like A Garden, by Jordan McMahon, Wired

The app uses friendly-looking pixel-art icons to set reminders and log basic bits of self-care: meals eaten, glasses of water drank, medications taken. It also offers gentle affirmations and reminds its users to occasionally interact with friends or the outdoors in order to avoid isolating circumstances.

Discko created it for people struggling with mental illness, chronic illness, ADHD, or people who just forget to floss their teeth before calling it a night.

Down Dog App Review: At-home Yoga For People Who Are Easily Bored, by Brenda Stolyar, Mashable

While I can't say I've absolutely fallen in love with yoga after using the app, it was the perfect way to slowly introduce myself to the practice. And with so many levels and practices still left to build upon, I'm actually excited to slowly improve and to incorporate it into my fitness routine.


An Apple Employee Laughed Because I Bought A New MacBook Air, by Chris Matyszczyk, ZDNet

So I contacted one to ask about the new Air and admit I'd already bought one.

Fergal – for that isn't his real name, in case Tim Cook wonders – began his response like this: "HAHAHAHAHAHA."

This seemed curious, even if I feared what he might be about to say.

He continued: "So you bought an Air that was a piece of crap and you didn't bother getting the keyboard replaced?"

The Humble Phone Call Has Made A Comeback, by Cecilia Kang, New York Times

Phone calls have made a comeback in the pandemic. While the nation’s biggest telecommunications providers prepared for a huge shift toward more internet use from home, what they didn’t expect was an even greater surge in plain old voice calls, a medium that had been going out of fashion for years.


New needs are emerging in the crisis. “We’ve become a nation that calls like never before,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, a commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission, the agency that oversees phone, television and internet providers. “We are craving human voice.”

The Designed-to-Avoid Edition Saturday, April 11, 2020

Apple And Google Are Launching A Joint COVID-19 Tracing Tool, by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

The first phase of the project is an API that public health agencies can integrate into their own apps. The next phase is a system level contact tracing system that will work across iOS and Android devices on an opt-in basis.

The system uses on-board radios on your device to transmit an anonymous ID over short ranges — using Bluetooth beaconing. Servers relay your last 14 days of rotating IDs to other devices which search for a match. A match is determined based on a threshold of time spent and distance maintained between two devices.

If a match is found with another user that has told the system that they have tested positive, you are notified and can take steps to be tested and to self quarantine.

Apple, Google Bring Covid-19 Contact-Tracing To 3 Billion People, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple and Google stressed on Friday that their system preserves users’ privacy. Consent is required and location data is not collected. The technology also won’t notify users who they came into contact with, or where that happened. The companies said they can’t see this data either, and noted that the whole system can be shut down when needed.


Other organizations are also working on contact-tracing. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology earlier this week announced plans for a similar system. Some countries and third-party developers have also tried implementing contact-tracing on phones, but they have faced privacy and connectivity issues that the new system is designed to avoid.


Today At Apple At Home Brings Apple Store Creativity To Your Living Room, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

The digital version of Today at Apple is launching with three sessions filmed by Creative Pros in London, Singapore, and Santa Monica. You’ll learn how to draw playful portraits on iPad, capture striking photography with iPhone, and shoot photos full of personality. Each session draws from techniques and skills taught in some of the most popular in-person sessions. Expect to see more content posted soon.

Highlights For iPhone And iPad: An Excellent Companion For Researchers, by John Voorhees, MacStories

The app translates the analog process of marking up a PDF to the digital world very well by providing tools that demonstrate an understanding of the needs of students, researchers, and anyone who spends a lot of time with PDFs.

HBO Will Extend Streaming Support For Older Apple TVs, by Marc DeAngelis, Engadget

An HBO spokesperson told Engadget that HBO Now will remain on 2nd and 3rd gen Apple TVs until May 15th and that HBO Go will be available for “a few additional months.” The spokesperson said that HBO made the decision to extend support “to provide impacted users more time to make any necessary updates.”

The Sun-on-your-Wrist Edition Friday, April 10, 2020

In-Depth: The Eerie Beauty Of The Apple Watch Solar Face, And The Anatomy Of Nightfall, by Jack Forster, Hodinkee

As of WatchOS 6, which was introduced last September, there is a new Solar watch face. This one is simply called the Solar Dial, and it is a remarkably charming thing. It has been described as a miniature sundial for the wrist, but it is rather more like having a sundial and the Sun itself on your wrist, both at the same time. Moreover, it bears a certain resemblance to some rather exotic complications found in mechanical watches, about which more later.

Hey Fourteen: When Numbers Get Siri-ous, by Adam Engst, TidBITS

Curious as to why anyone would be reciting numbers at Siri, I invoked Siri on my iPhone and said, “14.” You can imagine my surprise when I was presented with an emergency call screen and a 3-second countdown. I tapped Cancel quickly, not knowing what would actually happen. (I subsequently confirmed that Siri would have called 911 here in the United States and presumably whatever your primary emergency number is wherever you live.)


Apple's Education Team Publishes New '30 Creative Activities For Kids' Worksheet, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple today has released a new “30 Creative Activities for Kids” worksheet designed specifically for those learning from home due to COVID-19. The worksheet includes 30 creative tasks for kids, ranging from photo walks to creating a comic strip and more.

Apple Updates Its COVID-19 Informative App With New Features, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

According to the release notes of Apple’s COVID-19 app, the latest update allows users to choose the state in which they live for getting focused assistance from each government’s health department. Apple says it has also added more information and tips to keep people mentally healthy during the coronavirus outbreak, as the recommendation is for people to stay home indefinitely.

Stream For Free: Apple Makes Some Apple TV+ Shows Free For A Limited Time, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Whilst everyone is staying indoors, Apple has made some Apple TV+ shows free for anyone to stream. Apple says the US promotion will run for a limited time; it’s not clear if it will be available internationally.

Rather than give unlimited access to the full Apple TV+ collection, Apple has made a handful of series temporarily free. This means anyone can stream Little America, Servant, For All Mankind, Dickinson, Snoopy in Space, Helpsters, Ghostwriter and The Elephant Queen.


The Software Industry's Greatest Sin: Hiring, by Neil Sainsbury

One of the greatest sins in the entire software industry has got to be the way developers are hired. It is irredeemably broken and needs to be torn down and completely rebuilt.

I've been a software developer now for around 15 years. In that time, I've been a day-to-day developer, run my own successful software business, was co-founder at a VC funded startup, and I've had to hire and manage developers. This experience has given me the perspective to see hiring from all angles: from the perspective of being a developer myself trying to get a job, to being on the other end of the table, trying to decipher what makes a great hire, living with 'bad hires', asking where do 'impactful' developers come from, etc. To distil what is ultimately a multitude of failures in the way developer hiring is conducted is a tough order - but there is one aspect that I want to zoom in on and talk about, and it's a big one.


Apple Music's 'Stream Local' Initiative Will Support South African Musicians, by Amber Neely, AppleInsider

The initiative, dubbed "Stream Local," is set to launch on April 11, and serves to provide a platform for South African music, including chart-toppers and newly-released titles. Some of the artists included will be Elaine, Blaq Diamond, Kabza de Small, and Ami Faku.

The Unyielding App Store Game, by Benjamin Mayo

If anything, it has the opposite effect. The App Store becomes more tilted towards favouring the select few, with Apple at the head of the table. I fully expect that this will expand beyond so-called ‘video entertainment providers’. This is an opening of the floodgates to Apple cutting special deals across all categories of the App Store. As ever, Apple controls how the cards are dealt and the game is always stacked in Apple’s favour.

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There are bigger pictures. There are more important things.


Thanks for reading.

The FaceTime-Related Edition Thursday, April 9, 2020

Apple Releases macOS 10.15.4 Supplemental Update With Fixes For FaceTime, USB-C Issue, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple says today’s macOS Catalina 10.15.4 supplemental update includes a fix for a FaceTime pug, as well as an issue where you “may repeatedly receive a password prompt for an Office 365 account.” There are also fixes fro the 2020 MacBook Air and USB-C performance across all Mac models.

Apple Releases watchOS 6.2.1 With FaceTime Audio Bug Fixes, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple has released watchOS 6.2.1 to the public today, bringing bug fixes and performance improvements specifically related to FaceTime.

Limiting Exposures

iPads Are Crucial Health Care Tools In Combating Covid-19, by Paris Martineau, Wired

The usual daily gaggles of doctors and residents moving from bed to bed to conduct rounds has been replaced by a lone physician, clad in protective equipment, escorting a laptop on a cart around the hospital. Doctors participate virtually through an app the hospital has configured to facilitate medical care while limiting potential exposure by staff. Some doctors join virtual rounds from a sanitized conference room down the hall where they sit 6 feet apart, others from their homes.

In the isolation wards, Covid-19 patients rest in rooms equipped with iPads mounted to IV poles using a gizmo designed to secure tablets to boats. The iPads include software that makes them virtual extensions of Mass General’s 2,000 nurses. Nurses can use the devices to check on and communicate with patients without donning masks, gloves, and other precious protective gear, and risk exposing themselves to the virus.

Big Tech's Summer Internships Go Digital Amid Coronavirus Shutdown, by Ina Fried, Axios

The major tech companies are scrambling to craft digital options for this year's summer intern class, as businesses remain shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

iPhone: How To Use Face ID With A Mask, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

The tutorial mentions folding a mask in half and going through the set up process for Face ID. In our testing, that worked but not very consistently.

What we found the most consistent was using the primary Face ID set up as well as redoing the alternate appearance with a mask to offer the best unlocking results.


Apple Sending Replacement AirPods With Unreleased Firmware, Rendering Them Unusable, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Customers who require a replacement AirPod from Apple have in some cases been receiving an AirPod running 2D3 firmware, which is not a version of the AirPods firmware that's been publicly released.

Watchsmith Review: Create Your Own Apple Watch Complications, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Watchsmith, the latest app from David Smith, was birthed from the inability to create third-party watch faces on the Apple Watch. As Smith has previously explained, while third-party faces may never be possible, several first-party faces already offer significant room for customization. The Infograph face, for example, contains eight different complication slots; if a rich array of third-party complications were available, you could build a highly customized watch face using the existing faces provided by Apple.

Watchsmith exists to provide that rich set of complications. The app offers 37 types of complications, each adaptable to different watch faces and complication slots, and all fully customizable so they can look exactly the way you prefer. Additionally, Watchsmith offers scheduling functionality to cause different complications to appear on your Watch at different times throughout the day.

Timing 2 Helps Track And Manage Your Working Hours, by Jeff Porten, TidBITS

No matter what habits you’re trying to change, the way to do it is with better attention paid, frictionless tracking, and positive feedback loops. Timing (in conjunction with a good calendar app) isn’t perfect, but it’s easily the best software I’ve ever used for the purpose.

HBO Now Ends Support For 3rd-gen Apple TV At End Of The Month, Here Are Your Options, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The HBO Now and HBO Go apps are ending support for the third-generation Apple TV at the end of April. HBO announced the retirement on March 30, and a banner is now visible in the HBO app on the older Apple TV boxes.


iPad Vs. Surface: Apple And Microsoft Get Closer To Convergence, by Jason Snell, Macworld

When Apple announced the new Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro—which features a trackpad that users can use to drive a cursor around on the iPad screen—some pundits pointed out that at long last, Apple was admitting that Microsoft was right after all when it designed the Surface with a keyboard and trackpad.

Except that’s not what happened. With iPad and Surface, Apple and Microsoft are both headed for the same destination—a new kind of computer that is just as at home as a touch tablet, with a stylus, or with a traditional keyboard and mouse. They’re just converging on it from opposite directions.

Apple CEO To Take Covid-19 Questions At Virtual Company-Wide Meeting, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. is organizing a company-wide virtual meeting for later this month to allow employees to ask questions of the executive team led by Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook.

The company sent a note to employees advising them of the plan on Wednesday in the U.S., which Bloomberg News has reviewed. It asked that questions be submitted by end of day on Saturday and also encouraged workers to share their experiences of working through the disruption to daily life that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about. The specific date of the meeting has not yet been disclosed.

In The Battle Against The Machines, She’s Holding Her Ground, by Steve Lohr, New York Times

Transcription, put simply, is converting human speech to text. And speech recognition is one of the tasks where A.I. technology has made the most rapid progress. Seeing the door that technology has opened, automated transcription start-ups like Trint and have jumped in and are becoming popular.

Human transcribers would seem an endangered species. Yet Ms. Leonard, 37, has thrived, despite the arrival of automated services and advancing A.I. technology.

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Time to slow down. Stop refreshing the browser.


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The Older-Facetime Edition Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Apple Releases iOS And iPadOS 13.4.1, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Most notably, they address a problem caused by iOS/iPadOS 13.4 wherein users running that version could not join FaceTime calls with users running older versions of iOS or macOS—iOS 9.3.6 or OS X 10.11.6 or earlier, to be specific. Users began reporting the issue shortly after iOS 13.4 launched, and the timing was unfortunate given that users have been seeking digital ways to connect with family and friends amidst shelter-in-place orders across the world. Apple claims this issue is now fixed.

Apple Music Launches $50m Advance Fund For Independent Labels Hit By Covid-19 Impact, by Tim Ingham, Music Business Worldwide

The company is set to inform independent labels and distributors later today (April 7) that any amongst their ranks who meet a minimum quarterly threshold of $10,000 in Apple Music earnings can qualify for one-off advance payments on future royalties out of the $50m fund.


Apple is apparently telling the indies that it hopes the money will be used to “to help them pay artists and maintain operations”.

What To Do If You Break Your iPhone During A Pandemic, by Aaron Mak, Slate

Though stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders may make IT troubleshooting seem impossible, consumer tech companies have come up with a number of ways to get your devices fixed while minimizing your possible exposure to the coronavirus. Apple, for instance, has kept its online support portal running despite closing its stores. If the malfunction is purely software-related, a representative may be able to diagnose the problem and configure a fix remotely. You can also mail in your device to a repair center to address hardware issues or reference Apple’s database of authorized third-party service providers, some of which may still be open based on your location. (It’s a good idea to call ahead, though, to make sure they’re actually open before you make the trip.)


Apple Maps Emphasizes Food Delivery, Hospitals, And Pharmacies During COVID-19 Pandemic, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

When you choose the new Food Delivery category, you see all of the nearby restaurants that are open and providing delivery options. Previously, Apple Maps generally prioritized categories including Restaurants, Fast Good, Gas Stations, and Cafes.

Clips Update Adds Mickey And Minnie Mouse Stickers, Split And Duplicate Tools, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

Apple has updated its Clips app for iPhone and iPad, adding new 8-bit and Mickey and Minnie Mouse stickers alongside the Split and Duplicate buttons, and support for mouse and keyboard peripherals in iPadOS 13.4.

Pixelmator Photo For iPad Brings Color Matching, Plus Trackpad Support, by William Gallagher, AppleInsider

Pixelmator Photo for iPad has been updated with support for trackpads and other input devices in iOS 13.4, plus new machine learning-powered features that you can use to match colors between two photos.


Apple Schedules Q2 2020 Earnings Release For April 30 After Confirming It Won't Hit Guidance, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple announced back in February that it would not hit its Q2 earnings range due to coronavirus and the associated supply constraints and economic uncertainty. Apple had forecast a wider-than-usual range revenue range for Q2, predicting revenue between $63.0 billion and $67.0 billion. But due to the effects of the coronavirus, Apple won’t hit even the lowest-end of that guidance.


Apple said in February that customer demand across the product and services categories was been “strong to date and in line with our expectations,” but things have obviously changed significantly since then. We should learn more in Apple’s earnings release and during the call with analysts and investors on April 30.

It's A "Cold War Every Day" Inside This Group At Apple, by Alex Kantrowitz, BuzzFeed News

“There’s a Cold War going on every single day,” Archana Sabapathy, a former IS&T contractor who did two stints in the division, told me. Sabapathy’s first stint at IS&T lasted more than three years, the second only a day. Inside the division, she said, contracting companies such as Wipro, Infosys, and Accenture are constantly fighting to fill roles and win projects, which are handed out largely on the basis of how cheaply they can staff up to Apple’s needs.

“They’re just fighting for the roles,” Sabapathy told me. “That’s all they care about, not the work, not the deliverables, the effort they put in, or even talent. They’re not looking for any of those aspects.”

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Was it Steve Jobs' idea to hire only the A players, and outsource the rest to B and C players?


Thanks for reading.

The Special-Broadcast Edition Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Apple To Stream 'One World: Together At Home' Live Broadcast In Support Of Coronavirus Relief, by AppleInsider

Apple, along with a slew of major media platforms, will later this month air "One World: Together At Home," a special broadcast featuring celebrities and musical performances in support of COVID-19 relief efforts.

Arranged by Global Citizen and the World Health Organization (WHO), the multi-hour program will air globally on April 18 as part of a continuing initiative to drive funds to the WHO's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, Global Citizen said in an announcement. The project has raised $35 million over the past week.

Apple Donates $10M To 'One World: Together At Home' COVID-19 Fundraiser, by AppleInsider

Apple CEO Tim Cook on Monday announced the company will donate $10 million to the "One World: Together at Home" benefit, a COVID-19 fundraiser organized by Global Citizen and the World Health Organization in collaboration with Lady Gaga.


Apple MacBook Air Review: 2020's Near-perfect Consumer Laptop, by Samuel Gibbs, The Guardian

In form and function the MacBook Air is just a few shades short of the perfect traditional laptop. If you don’t want a more modern convertible, you’ll struggle to find a better consumer machine than this.

The keyboard is finally as great as the trackpad, the battery lasts long enough for a work day, it’s light but strong and the screen is beautiful, while the little things such as Touch ID work great. You also get two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a long support life.

Soulver Smart Calculator App For Mac Adds New 'QuickSoulver' Feature, Time Zone Conversions, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

QuickSoulver is a new feature in Soulver that makes it easy to perform “throwaway” calculations using the app.

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Stay safe.

The Face-Shields Edition Monday, April 6, 2020

Apple Donating Over 20 Million Masks To Healthcare Professionals, Producing Face Shields With Suppliers, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Cook said Apple has now sourced over 20 million masks that it is in the process of donating to healthcare professionals around the world. Apple is working with governments to ensure that the masks are donated to the places of greatest need.

Cook added that Apple's design, engineering, operations, and packaging teams are working with suppliers to design, produce, and ship face shields for medical workers. Apple plans to donate one million face shields by the end of this week, followed by an additional one million per week. Cook said the face shields take less than two minutes to assemble.


iWork Review, by Christian Rigg, TechRadar

iWork is a feature-rich suite with deep collaborative functionality. If your business is Mac-based, it’s hard to do better, especially since it’s free.

The New York Times, IFTTT, Medium, And Other Apps Adopt Sign In With Apple Ahead Of June 30 Deadline, by Frank McShan, MacRumors

Apps with sign-in functionality, including The New York Times, IFTTT, Medium, and more, have continued to adopt Apple's secure Sign in with Apple feature ahead of a deadline of June 30. The deadline for these apps to support the feature was recently extended from April 30.

How To Use Your Phone As A Webcam, by Mike Prospero, Tom's Guie

Yes, the same camera that you use to take selfies, vacation photos and pictures of food can be used as a productivity tool when working from home.

There’s a few ways you can use your phone as a webcam. We’ll show you a few techniques for how to set up your Android smartphone or iPhone to use as a webcam, whether you have a Mac or a PC. Best of all, many of these options are free.

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Today I did two Microsoft Teams meeting with my iPhone acting as a webcam to my Mac mini. It worked fine.

(I'm using EpocCam, by the way.)


Today I learnt that Microsoft Teams' notification is not using macOS notification system. And I lost 15 minutes of my life trying to figure out why Microsoft Team did not appear in the Security & Privacy panel in macOS' System Preferences.


Thanks for reading.

The Tech-Breaks Edition Sunday, April 5, 2020

What Happens If Your Apple Products Break During The Coronavirus Pandemic?, by Shubham Agarwal, Digital Trends

Never have your gadgets mattered more in your life. As coronavirus, formally known as COVID-19, brings cities to a halt, our laptops and phones have allowed us to work, play, and stay in touch with the outside world as well as family and friends.

But what if one of these indispensable tools of yours breaks down? You can’t rush to book a service appointment like you could before. Tech companies have shuttered most of their repair centers indefinitely, local technicians have been forced to close shops too and you’re unlikely to source a spare part for DIY operation. Even Apple Stores, which have long been a place to easily get Apple products repaired, have largely been shut down worldwide, leaving people with little to no option if their tech breaks.

Leaked iOS 14 Screenshot Shows New Wallpaper Settings, Beta Code Reveals Home Screen Widgets, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

We can say that Apple is working to provide real widgets on the iPhone and iPad home screen for the first time. Instead of pinned widgets like on iPadOS 13, the new widgets on iOS 14 can be moved around, just like any app icon. The feature is still being implemented and may be scrapped by Apple.

Apple TV Channels Offering Free EPIX Access, Extended Free Trials Of Showtime And Many More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

A handful of streaming services are offering extended trials through the Apple TV app during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, you can get extended one-month trials of Showtime and other services, as well as completely free access to EPIX. Read on for the details.

Review: Logitech Powered 3-in-1 Dock Is A Useful Multi-device Desktop Charger, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

Logitech has done a great job at providing enough power while not getting too hot and compromising on efficiency. We are pleased with the clean lines and no-frills appearance of the Powered 3-in-1 dock, as it would probably fit in with a variety of interior designs and not draw a lot of attention to itself.

He Bought Apple's AirPods Pro. Now They're Saving His Marriage, by Chris Matyszczyk, ZDNet

Personally, I can't bear the idea of having to wear headphones all day, let alone ones I have to insert in my ears. For Donal, though, it's this or divorce.

"We might have to be like this for months," he told us. "I love him, but there's no way I could survive without these things."

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Do I have food in the fridge and cupboard? Check. Do I have shoes to wear if I do go out for a walk? Check. Do I have masks? Check. Do I have a new Mac mini (thanks, Apple, DHL) just in case my soon-to-be-vintage MacBook Pro says bye bye?

Things that I cannot control I cannot control. Things I don't know what to expect I don't have any expectations.

Sleep well. Smell the rose. Stay safe.

(Here in Singapore, a stay-at-home order has just been announced.)


Thanks for reading.

The As-Safely-As-Possible Edition Saturday, April 4, 2020

Every Zoom Security And Privacy Flaw, So Far, And What You Can Do To Protect Yourself, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

TidBITS contacted Zoom for its insights about how it has handled security and privacy issues, but the company didn’t reply. As I finished this article, however, Zoom publicly responded to disclosures of several new security problems. This response, unlike most previous ones, was a blog post with an apology and a full explanation. A subsequent post laid out the company’s plans for how it will improve its software and its culture around security and privacy. It’s a glimmer of hope for the future.

In this article, I walk through the many software, security, and privacy issues Zoom has encountered and its response to each.

You may prefer to not use Zoom after reading this article. For my part, I continue to rely on it, sometimes daily. However, many people—perhaps tens of millions—have to use Zoom for school and work. Given that not using it isn’t an option for them, I want to offer advice on configuring it as safely as possible.


App For Journalists: Emulsio, For Stabilising Shaky Camera Footage, by Daniel Green,

Not all reporters working from home are masters of mobile journalism. Emulsio removes the shakiness of handheld footage to make it look more presentable for social media or broadcast.

No need to create an account; simply download the app, select the footage you want to stabilise and the app will automatically adjust your video to smooth out any shakiness.

YouTube Live And Twitch Streaming Now Available In Audio Hijack From Rogue Amoeba, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Audio Hijack has the tagline “If you can hear it, you can record it,” and now the functionality has improved the arrival of live streaming support to services like YouTube, Twitch, Periscope, and more.

University Of Nebraska Students Create App To Help Local Businesses Go Mobile, by Mackenzie Huck,

"For us, it's not a business opportunity," Bogus said. "It's an opportunity for us to give back to the community, really help people in need right now, and really try and help keep a lot of these places, keep them on and keep them going and keep paying their employees and keep getting revenue."

The goal for Peddicord and Bogus is to help local businesses compete.

"People are pretty familiar with, like, the Starbucks app, getting on and re-ordering your favorite drink right there," Bogus said. "A lot of times, local businesses can't compete with that, so we wanted to give them an opportunity to do so."


The CDC Suggests Deep Breathing To Stay Calm. Try It. It's Oh-so Soothing, by Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking deep breaths to improve your emotional health during the coronavirus outbreak. But how? There’s a technique to making the most of your deep, cleansing breaths — and it’s pretty easy to learn.

Here are four steps to shed stress and anxiety, and find that oh-so soothing comfort in every breath.

Apple Acquires AI Startup To Better Understand Natural Language, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. acquired Voysis, an artificial intelligence startup that developed a platform for digital voice assistants to better understand people’s natural language.

Dublin, Ireland-based Voysis focused on improving digital assistants inside online shopping apps, so the software could respond more accurately to voice commands from users. A now-removed company webpage said the technology could narrow product search results by processing shopping phrases such as “I need a new LED TV” and “My budget is $1,000.” Voysis provided this AI to other companies to incorporate it into their own apps and voice assistants.

Tim Cook Keeping Commencement Address Streak With Virtual Ohio State Graduation On May 3, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Tim Cook is known to deliver a commencement address in front of graduating college students every spring. This year is no exception, although the global health pandemic calls for unique measures: a virtual appearance.

The Ohio State University announced today that the Buckeyes will hold a virtual spring commencement for the class of 2020 on May 3. Apple CEO will deliver the virtual commencement address while large groups of people gathering is prohibited to stop the spread of coronavirus.

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Stay safe everyone, IRL as well as on Zoom.


Thanks for reading.

The Amazon-Had-Leverage Edition Friday, April 3, 2020

Amazon And Apple Strike Deal For Prime Video In-App Purchases, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

What Apple is saying here is that for a video subscription service — pardon me, a premium video subscription service — to qualify for this program, the service has to support all of Apple’s features for video content apps: AirPlay 2 support, a native tvOS app, single sign-on if applicable, universal search and Siri support (so if you search in the TV app for a show or movie, results from Amazon Prime Video show up). This includes integration with the TV app for features like Up Next — start watching a TV series in Prime Video and when you go to Apple’s TV app (on any device) your next episode should appear in Up Next. Supporting all of these features is a lot of work, and Amazon has done it all.

Why Amazon Got Out Of The Apple App Store Tax, And Why Other Developers Won’t, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

All of the above is why I’m comfortable saying that Amazon had leverage on Apple: Apple has clear incentives in the form of getting more participation in the Apple TV app and in getting a cut on the new subscribers it drives to Amazon. Amazon has the incentive of not paying more money to Apple.

Most of all, you can tell it’s about leverage simply because the Amazon Kindle app hasn’t changed. You can’t buy a Kindle book directly in the Kindle app, nor is Amazon even allowed to link to or even hint at the possibility that it has a whole damn Kindle store on its website where you can make one-click purchases.

Security Matters

Apple Brings Its Hardware Microphone Disconnect Feature To iPads, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

The feature was first introduced to Macs by way of Apple’s T2 security chip last year. The security chip ensured that the microphone was physically disconnected from the device when the user shuts their MacBook lid. The idea goes that physically cutting off the microphone from the device prevents malware — even with the highest level of “root” device permissions — from listening in to nearby conversations.

Apple confirmed in a support guide that its newest iPads have the same feature. Any certified “Made for iPad” case that’s attached and closed will trigger the hardware disconnect.

Hijack iPhone Camera Using Three Vulnerabilities – Now Fixed, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

A white-hat hacker was able to hijack iPhone cameras using a chain of three vulnerabilities he discovered. The same approach would also work with the cameras on Macs.

Ryan Pickren disclosed the vulnerabilities to Apple back in December of last year. The company fixed the most serious of them in January, and the rest last month.

Following Mac Flaw Patches, Zoom Fixes 'Malware-like' macOS Installer In Latest Update, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

After writing an apology note earlier today, fixing two serious Mac flaws, and detailing a plan to improve its security, privacy, and transparency moving forward, Zoom has also fixed its “malware-like” installer with the latest macOS update.


Autism Apps Highlighted On World Autism Awareness Day, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

A number of autism apps have been highlighted by Apple on World Autism Awareness Day, an annual event intended to educate people about those with autistic spectrum disorders. It is part of the company’s extensive commitment to accessibility.


Top billing goes to Proloquo2Go, a communication app intended for use by those who cannot speak or have difficulty expressing themselves verbally.


WFH Got You Stiff And Sore? An Ergo Expert Offers 8 Tips To Stay Healthy, by Lisa Boone, Los Angeles Times

“There is a saying that ‘the best position is the next position,’” says Agoura Hills-based ergonomics consultant Karen Loesing, an expert in evaluating work stations.

The key, Loesing says, is to break up the work day with stretching, walking and a variety of postures. Here, Loesing offers 8 tips on how to stay healthy while working from home, plus some shopping inspiration in case you need to upgrade your WFH station.


Apple Anticipates Retail Store Closures To Last Until At Least 'Early May', by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen, Apple has made the decision to keep all of its retail stores in the United States closed until at least May. In a message obtained by 9to5Mac, Apple’s SVP of Retail + People Deirdre O’Brien reassured store employees that Apple will continue to support them during this difficult time.

Apple, Laurene Powell Jobs And Leonardo DiCaprio Launch America's Food Fund In Response To Coronavirus Crisis, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple today launched the America’s Food Fund, hosted on GoFundMe, along with partners including Leonardo DiCaprio, Laurene Powell Jobs, and the Ford Foundation. The project aims to support food access for vulnerable people across the United States.

The donations will go towards the World Central Kitchen and Feeding America nonprofit organizations.

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If Apple is really pushing hard for the TV app to be the default app in Apple TV, and that premium video subscription services are falling in line, Apple better buckle up and make the TV app a good app.

(Because what they have now is not good enough.)


Thanks for reading.

The Qualifying-Premium-App Edition Thursday, April 2, 2020

Apple Will Stop Taking Cut Of Some Amazon Video Purchases On App Store, by Stephen Nellis, Reuters

In an emailed statement, Apple said that for “qualifying premium video entertainment apps such as Prime Video, Altice One and Canal+, customers have the option to buy or rent movies and TV shows using the payment method tied to their existing video subscription.” Apple also said the services will function better with Apple devices and apps, for example by letting users ask its voice assistant, Siri, to find shows on the third-party services.

Apple, Goldman To Let Apple Card Holders Defer April Payments, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are letting Apple Card users defer April payments without incurring interest to ease financial pressure from economic disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The card, backed by Goldman, offered the same program for March payments. Apple Card users need to opt in to the program by messaging a support representative via the Wallet app on an Apple device.

Ex-NSA Hacker Drops New Zero-day Doom For Zoom, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

Hot on the heels of two security researchers finding a Zoom bug that can be abused to steal Windows passwords, another security researcher found two new bugs that can be used to take over a Zoom user’s Mac, including tapping into the webcam and microphone.

Coming Soon

iOS 14: Keychain Password Manager To Gain New 1Password-like Features, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

Apple is working to improve the iCloud Keychain password manager on iOS, 9to5Mac has learned, with two-factor password integration and more. These new features described are based on an early build of iOS 14 obtained by 9to5Mac.


Pokémon, Stay, by James Poniewozik, New York Times

Still, I play. I see what creatures are lurking near my house. Occasionally, I see if the coast is clear and dash down the block to spin my local Pokéstop. In a stressful time, even the attenuated game is a distraction and a comfort.

But it’s also a reminder of what Pokémon Go used to give me, and the one thing it can no longer deliver no matter how much it tweaks its code: the whole wide world.

Spotify Launches Siri Support For Apple Watches Running watchOS 6, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

After bringing the long-awaited feature to iOS last fall, Spotify has updated its app today to take advantage of Siri support on Apple Watch in watchOS 6.


Apple Adding New Detailed Financial Report Option To App Store Connect For Developers, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple says the new financial report option will show developers more details on their proceeds. The report shows settlement dates for purchases, state and province details, and much more.


Apple Providing Subsidies To Authorized Service Providers That Offer Repairs On Pickup And Drop-Off Basis, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

In an effort to encourage social distancing, Apple has indicated that it will provide subsidies to Apple Authorized Service Providers that offer product repairs on a pickup and drop-off basis in the United States and Canada.

Tile Says Apple's Behavior Is Anticompetitive And Has 'Gotten Worse, Not Better', by Diane Bartz, Reuters

Tile Inc, which helps users find lost items, told a congressional panel on Wednesday that Apple failed to live up to promises aimed at resolving a dispute between the two companies and introduced requirements that would hurt their business.

The smart-tracker maker was one of four companies that testified against the big tech platforms - Tile focused on Apple - in a January hearing in Colorado of a panel of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

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I've spend the entire morning today -- a beautiful Thursday morning here near the northern border of Singapore -- thinking it was only Wednesday.


I do use Zoom for work. I do not install Zoom on my Mac. Only on my iPad. I do hope the work done by Apple for iPadOS and iOS will protect me against Zoom.


Thanks for reading.

The Weather-Data Edition Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Dark Sky Has Been Acquired By Apple And Its API Will Be Discontinued At The End Of 2021, by John Voorhees, MacStories

According to the company, its iOS app will continue to be made available on the App Store. However, the Android and Wear OS apps will be discontinued and the service will no longer work after July 1, 2020. Subscribers active at that time will receive a refund. Likewise, the weather forecast, maps, and embeds portions of the Dark Sky website will be discontinued after July 1, 2020.

Android Is Losing The Dark Sky Weather App, Now What?, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

There are columns to be written speculating what Apple wants to do with Dark Sky, its well-crafted app, and its very well-crafted system of collecting and making sense of weather data. Will it be built into Apple’s own weather apps? Will it become yet another monthly subscription service alongside so many others that Apple offers?

The time will come to wonder about all of that, in the way we always wonder what these giant companies are up to and what products they’re working on. For now, though, I’m looking forward to what a lot of smaller companies are going to do to fill the gap Dark Sky is leaving on Android.

Cloud Collaboration

Apple Updates iWork Apps For Mac With iCloud Folder Sharing And Other New Features, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

The updates add support for iCloud Folder Sharing for collaborative files with macOS 10.15.4 installed, plus there are options to edit shared documents offline.

There are also new templates and editable shapes to work with, a redesigned template chooser, and an option to add color, gradients, and images to the background of any document.

Apple Updates iWork, iMovie For iOS Apps With Trackpad And Mouse Support For iPad, by AppleInsider

All three apps gain iCloud Drive folder sharing for fast and easy collaboration on group projects, a hold-and-drag gesture for selecting multiple objects, drop cap insertion, and an option to include comments in prints and PDF exports. Numbers and Keynote also see the addition of offline editing tools that allow users to edit shared documents and automatically upload those changes once reconnected to the internet.

iMovie Is Now Ready For Apple's New Magic Keyboard And Trackpad For iPad Pro, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Apple has updated iMovie for iPadOS with new features including mouse and trackpad support, new keyboard shortcuts, more image format, and more. The new version also prepares Apple’s video editing app for the upcoming Magic Keyboard accessory for iPad Pro.

Don't Upgrade Pages, Numbers, Or Keynote For iOS If You Rely On WebDAV, by William Gallagher, AppleInsider

Apple has announced that its latest version 10.0 updates to Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, has lost a significant feature. If people currently upload documents from these apps to a WebDAV server, perhaps because they run one for their business, they will have to find an alternative —and Apple just happens to provide one.

"After you update to Pages, Numbers, or Keynote 10.0, you won't be able to upload documents to a WebDAV server," says Apple in a new support document. "To make sure you don't lose any changes that haven't been uploaded, save any pending uploads to your device, iCloud, or another location."

Security Matters

Zoom Meetings Aren’t End-to-End Encrypted, Despite Misleading Marketing, by Micah Lee, The Intercept

Zoom, the video conferencing service whose use has spiked amid the Covid-19 pandemic, claims to implement end-to-end encryption, widely understood as the most private form of internet communication, protecting conversations from all outside parties. In fact, Zoom is using its own definition of the term, one that lets Zoom itself access unencrypted video and audio from meetings.


Apple Configurator 2 Updated With New Features, Including Support For Restoring Firmware On 2019 Mac Pro, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple Configurator 2 makes it easier to deploy iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Apple TV devices in an institution or enterprise. The app can be used to configure large numbers of devices with specific settings, apps, and data for students, employees, or customers.

This App Lets Musicians Remotely Jam Out On Loops In Real Time, by Dani Deahl, The Verge

Even though Endlesss is a music-making app, it’s not really meant for making complete songs. It’s a collaborative “virtual musical hangout with a live chat room” that lets multiple users build and change loops of music in real time. Just select a project and start tapping out drum patterns and melodies to change up someone’s loop. You can make stuff just for yourself, but the social aspect is encouraged.

Spotify Kids Launches In Canada, France, And The US, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Spotify has launched its standalone app for children in Canada, France, and the United States. Called Spotify Kids, the family-friendly version of the music streaming service is exclusively for Premium Family subscribers and comes tailored for children aged three and up.


Bruce Daisley, The Author Of ‘Eat Sleep Work Repeat,’ Has Good Advice For New Remote Workers, by Ron Charles, Washington Post

There was a Harvard Business Review article a couple of days ago saying that, if you’re feeling constantly exhausted right now, don’t be surprised. This is a common experience of grief. When people feel a low level of anxiety through the day, it does manifest in our physiognomy. It does manifest in us feeling exhausted by the emotional drain of it. So let’s not drive ourselves into the ground right now. Let’s at least use this opportunity to reflect on what’s important, rather than trying to retain unsustainable levels of performance in such a singular and wretched time.


Apple Asks Store Workers To Take On Tech Support Roles, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. is asking retail store employees to temporarily become remote technical support staff while stores remain closed.

A subset of retail staff are participating in the program to become work-from-home AppleCare employees so the company has enough workers to handle customer requests.

Apple Confirms It Will Continue To Pay Contractors After Some Were Initially Told Otherwise, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

As shutdowns caused by COVID-19 remain in place, Apple has committed to paying its contractors. The Wall Street Journal reports that initially, some contractors were told their jobs would be suspended without pay during the shutdown, but Apple has clarified that position.