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.

Bottom of the Page

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.