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Archive for January 2021

The American-Values Edition Thursday, January 21, 2021

Tech Rallies Behind Biden’s Immigration Plans, by Makena Kelly, The Verge

“We welcome President Biden’s commitment to pursuing comprehensive immigration reform that reflects the American values of justice, fairness and dignity. This effort will strengthen American communities and the pathways to opportunity this country has long fostered,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement Wednesday. “In the weeks and months to come, business leaders look forward to working with the Administration, as well as Democrats and Republicans in Congress, to achieve bipartisan, practical and comprehensive solutions to fix our broken immigration system, including a permanent solution for Dreamers that includes a path to citizenship.”

Stuff

Apple's Joint Venture Small Business Program Coming To An End, Here's What Will Replace It, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

After a decade, Apple’s Joint Venture support program for small and medium-size businesses appears to be coming to an end. Apple is sending emails to customers about how the program will wrap up, that refunds will be issued, and how a new AppleCare offering will be filling the gap going forward.

‘Agenda’ Date-focused Notes App Gains Support For Tables And More On iOS And Mac, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Agenda for iPhone, iPad, and Mac is a date-focused notes/productivity app and it has received some new features today in the latest update. Headlining the changes is support for tables, inline styles, and horizontal rules.

Best Apps For Young Kids To Foster Fun And Creative Learning, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

For my wife and I, finding engaging, fun apps that naturally encourage creativity and learning with game-like qualities has been super helpful.

Notes

The Problem With Apple Reportedly Killing The MacBook Pro Touch Bar, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

My issue with the Touch Bar in 2021 isn’t that it’s no longer better than a static row of function keys. It’s that Apple shipped the Touch Bar then never touched it again.

The Touch Bar is considered just OK to lackluster four years later because it’s bizarrely still a 1.0 product.

Apple TV+ Had Only 3% Market Share In The US Last Quarter, Netflix Still In First Place, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

Although Apple has been investing in new movies and shows for its streaming service Apple TV+, the platform is still far from being considered a huge success. New research from JustWatch obtained by 9to5Mac revealed that Apple TV+ had only 3% of market share in the fourth quarter of 2020 in the US, ranking far behind competitors like Netflix, Disney+, and even Peacock.

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I don't know how the story will yet end, but I suddenly realize this may not be the right time for me to be reading a novel about what-ifs between life and death.

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Thanks for reading.

The Spotlight-Showcase Edition Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Apple Spotlights iPhone 12 Photography, by John Voorhees, MacStories

For the past several years, Apple has shown off some of the best photos taken with the current-generation iPhone. In a press release today, the company highlights 17 beautiful images taken around the globe, as a showcase of what the iPhone 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max can do.

Apples Podcasts Adds Spotlight Editorial Feature, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Today, Apple unveiled a new monthly editorial feature for Podcasts called Spotlight, which showcases up-and-coming podcast creators. The first podcaster featured is Chelsea Devantez, whose show Celebrity Book Club debuted late last year and discusses the memoirs of celebrity women.

Stuff

$49 Beats Flex With Apple’s W1 Chip Now Available In Two New Color Options, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Packing Apple’s W1 chip for seamless connectivity to Apple devices, the Beats Flex have proven to be a popular choice for budget shoppers. Today, Beats is further expanding the Flex lineup with two new color options: Flame Blue and Smoke Gray.

Apple Sets First Apple Watch ‘Unity' Activity Challenge For February In Honor Of Black History Month, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The first-ever “Unity Challenge” will be held from February 1 through February 28, and it encourages Apple Watch users to celebrate Black History Month by closing their Move ring seven days in a row.

iFixit Tears Down Apple’s $550 AirPods Max Headphones, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

All in all, iFixit called servicing the AirPods Max "surprisingly painless, particularly for an AirPods product." The ear cushions attach magnetically, and the headband can easily be detached.

MindNode For Mac Gains Support For Outlining Alongside Mind Mapping, by Oliver Haslam, iMore

The updated app has a few improvements this time out, but the biggest is a newly redesigned outlining tool that now includes support for editing, adding, removing, and rearranging entries.

Doodle Jump 2 Review: A Modern Take On A Classic, by Alex Guyot, MacStories

Doodle Jump 2 is instantly familiar to anyone who has played the original. The controls haven’t changed at all, nor has the core idea of The Doodler bouncing its way to ever-increasing heights. However, the game’s art and animations have been completely revamped, with tremendous results.

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I can't wait to see what Apple is doing for podcasting. But I doubt I will want to pay for it. I already have too much stuff to listen.

(I am paying for audiobooks.)

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Thanks for reading.

The Helping-Others Edition Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Apple Distinguished Educator Mike Lang Draws Blueprint For Change In Las Vegas, by Apple

“My hope for all my students is that they see and consider themselves as citizens of the world who are responsible for helping others be successful,” Lang says. This month, Lang initiated a three-part project with his kindergarten and first grade students to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and instill a sense of civic duty in them. “That’s the ultimate goal: We want people who are going to be informed, passionate, patriotic in the true sense of that word, and who are going to be empathetic.”

Apple Partners With The King Center On 'Challenge For Change' Educational Initiative, by AppleInsider

Apple on Monday partnered with The King Center to launch a second installment of "Challenge for Change," an educational series that urges youth to participate in community service programs.

Stuff

AirPods Max Battery Drain - Some Say They Empty Overnight, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

Some owners are reporting that their headphone battery is draining from 100% to 1% or 0% overnight, even when left inside the official Apple case designed to drop them quickly into ultra-low power mode.

Some M1 Macs Blighted By Fast User Switching Screensaver Bug, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

A growing number of user reports online suggest some of Apple’s M1 Mac models are susceptible to a Fast User Switching bug that spontaneously activates the screensaver and leaves the user unable to dismiss it.

I Tried 4 To-Do List Methods. Here’s What Worked., by Kelsey Alpaio, Harvard Business Review

The “do one thing” method made me feel more productive and in control than the others. But it was really best for completing my most immediate tasks. Moving forward, I’m going to combine it with Todoist, my digital task manager, which is better for scheduling important tasks that are due down the line.

I confess: My verdict is entirely based on my own preferences, strengths, and flaws. No one method is really better than the other — what works for you will depend on your own quirks, habits, and what you’re trying to accomplish. So experiment! And make sure to leave some blank space on your calendar to relax. (Burnout is real.)

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I do not know what this year will bring, and I am wary of looking forward to any form of normality for this year.

Instead, what I am trying to do is to look towards to five years from now. I hope I still have my physical health, and I hope I am not too bad financially. But I think I may have a better mental health and a happier outlook to life. And in order for that to happen, I need to start to figure out a way to move to that state now.

And that's something I can look forward to.

(We may still have to wear a mask whenever we go out, but at least, underneath that mask, I'll smile more.)

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Thanks for reading.

The A-Lot-More Edition Monday, January 18, 2021

Want To Write A Book This Year? These Tools Can Help, by Harry Guinness, Wired

2020 was not the year I wrote my first book—but it was the year I started thinking about it. And in typical freelance writer fashion, I decided to take advantage of my position and get some advice on how to go about it from people much more accomplished than me under the guise of researching this article. Here’s what I managed to learn.

How To Use Your iPhone To Get In Shape And Stay Healthy, by Todd Haselton, CNBC

You might already know that you can track your steps, for example. But the Health app built-into your iPhone can do a lot more, like tracking how long you practice mindfulness through third-party apps, determining how long you spent in bed, your walking speed and more.

Stuff

Fitness+ Subscribers Now Have Nearly 300 Workouts To Choose From, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Apple on Monday added over two dozen new video workout sessions to Fitness+, continuing a recent trend of building out the catalog of its fledgling subscription service on a weekly basis.

Apple Extends 13-Inch MacBook Pro Backlight Repair Program, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple this week extended its worldwide 13-inch MacBook Pro Display Backlight Service Program, authorizing coverage for eligible notebooks for up to five years after the original purchase date or up to three years after the start date of the program, whichever is longer.

Apple Arcade Icons Come To Life In New Apple Store Displays, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Characters from your favorite Apple Arcade titles are the stars of larger than life displays in Apple Stores around the world. The new interactive demos debuted this past week and are powered by a QR code-based experience.

Notes

From Bangkok To NYC: 5 Of The Coolest Apple Stores Around The World, by Tom Huddleston Jr., CNBC

The settings for those stores can vary greatly, from shopping malls to Manhattan's trendy SoHo shopping district. But in several cases, the tech giant co-founded by Steve Jobs (who always placed an emphasis on pleasing aesthetic designs) has aimed to ensure that the look of the store is just as appealing to customers as the company hopes the products inside will be.

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Out of the three Apple Stores in Singapore, the only one that I haven't visited is the dome-in-the-waters at Marina Bay Sands. It sure looked nice in photos.

Singapore is currently in the third phase of the re-opening; masks are still mandatory anywhere outside of one's home, and social gathering is limited to a maximum of eight people. But I've seldom left my home anymore. I think I've lost appetite of the outdoors.

Maybe things will change when I no longer solely work-from-home.

What I missed is seeing other people's smiles.

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Thanks for reading.

The Up-to-the-Job Edition Sunday, January 17, 2021

Are Women Let Down By Period Trackers?, by Zoe Kleinman, BBC

When journalist Orla Barry received a notification from her iPhone informing her that her period was due "any day in the next three weeks", she shared it on social media with wry amusement.

[...]

These apps do face a big challenge - periods are not always renowned for their punctuality. But are they up to the job?

Stuff

Apple Adds VolunteerMatch Guides To Apple Maps Ahead Of MLK Day Of Service, by Ian Sherr, CNET

Apple has teamed up with VolunteerMatch to help people find a new way to give back to their communities this Monday, which is a federal holiday to celebrate civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

HomePod Mini: Big Sound Small Complaint, by Bob Levitus, Houston Chronicle

For example, I was out for a walk and tried to send an Intercom voice message to my kitchen HomePod mini from my Apple Watch; an alert informed me that, “There was a problem with Intercom. Please try again later.”

Logitech HomeKit Doorbell Is Ready To Rule The Roost, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

It’s got a sharp and simple design, HomeKit Secure Video support, face recognition, and an impressive price point – particularly if you’re willing to handle the installation yourself.

Notes

The Death Of Apple's Touch Bar Is Long Overdue, by Brenda Stolyar, Mashable

Sure it looks cool, but it's super unintuitive — adjusting things like volume and brightness requires extra taps, and it's not even optimized for all apps.

DOJ Keeps 80-year-old Music Licensing Rules Affecting Apple Music Intact, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

The Department of Justice has chosen to keep 80-year-old consent decrees relating to music licensing rules intact, a decision that keeps the way Apple Music secures licenses for songs and tracks the same without any major legal changes.

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There were quite a few years that I didn't buy any new Macs. And so I avoided both the butteryfly-keyboards and the touch-bar.

But, with my failing eyes, as well as the likelihood that I will not be going anythere else to work besides my home and my office (maybe starting sometime this year?), it is very possible that I will not be buying another laptop for the rest of my life.

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Thanks for reading.

The Extensions-Library Edition Saturday, January 16, 2021

Safari 14 Added WebExtensions Support. So Where Are The Extensions?, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Months after Safari 14’s release, are developers “bothering with Safari?”

The answer seems to be largely no—at least, not yet. The Mac App Store’s Safari extensions library seems to be largely populated with the same stuff that was there before Safari 14 was released, though there are some exceptions.

Apple Highlights Students Shooting Movies With iPhone In New Video, by Mike Peterson, AppleInsider

The behind the scenes video shows off four films being made using the unique aspects of iPhone, like its small size and vertical aspect ratio. From stop motion using homemade props to full Hollywood-level productions, the video highlights how students can achieve beautiful shots with just an iPhone.

Automating Homes

HomeKit For The Holidays (And Home Troubleshooting Tips), by Adam Engst, TidBITS

Throughout all of iOS 12 and iOS 13, I was never able to turn on personal requests in the Home app—I’d tap the appropriate link, but the next screen would just be blank. I tried various things to no avail, but it wasn’t enough of a problem that I was willing to spend significant time on the phone with Apple support. I just assumed there was something wonky with my iCloud account. With iOS 14, personal requests finally work, but I’ve run into other issues that I’ll discuss at the end.

How I Used Open Source To Extend Apple’s Home Automation To More Devices, by Simon Bisson, ZDNet

If you're worried about privacy and want voice-controlled IoT in your home, the combination of Siri, HomePod, HomeKit, and Homebridge is well worth investigating.

Stuff

Apple Again Extends Apple TV+ Free Trials, Subscribers Now Get Free Access Until July 2021, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

This means customers who took advantage of the ‘year free’ deal back when the service first launched will now be getting an additional 9 months of free access to Apple original shows and movies.

Apple Adds 'Privacy' Collection To iOS Tips App, by AppleInsider

The new Privacy collection consists of nine tips covering Sign in with Apple, Safari passwords, system-wide password security, camera and mic usage indicators, Messages previews, location, Photos, Private Browsing in Safari, and Safari's Privacy Report feature.

The Best Budgeting App For People Serious About Getting Out Of Debt, by Elizabeth Gravier, CNBC

The big perk with using the YNAB app is that it forces you to be thoughtful about your money and it makes you allocate funds toward saving and investing. For these reasons, the app is favorable for anyone trying to get out of debt.

Notes

Apple Fails To Overturn VirnetX Patent Verdict, Could Owe Over $1.1 Billion, by Jonathan Stempel, Reuters

A federal judge denied Apple Inc’s bid to set aside or reduce a $502.8 million patent infringement verdict favoring VirnetX Holding Corp, and awarded interest and royalties that could boost Apple’s total payout in two lawsuits above $1.1 billion.

The Additional-Levels Edition Friday, January 15, 2021

How Law Enforcement Gets Around Your Smartphone's Encryption, by Lily Hay Newman, Wired

Lawmakers and law enforcement agencies around the world, including in the United States, have increasingly called for backdoors in the encryption schemes that protect your data, arguing that national security is at stake. But new research indicates governments already have methods and tools that, for better or worse, let them access locked smartphones thanks to weaknesses in the security schemes of Android and iOS.

Apple Encryption Is A Balance Between User Convenience And Total Security, New Study Shows, by Mike Peterson, AppleInsider

This means Apple has additional levels of encryption and security that isn't being tapped by the operating system or installed applications. Apple is a consumer brand, however, and may not want a device so locked down a user's data is in danger of being lost forever.

Coming Soon

Apple Plans Upgraded MacBook Pros With Return Of Magnetic Charging, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. is planning upgraded MacBook Pro laptops this year with much faster processors, updated displays and the return of its magnetic charger, according to a person with knowledge of the plans.

[...]

The company is now bringing back MagSafe, the magnetic power adapter that means any accidental yanking of the power cable would simply detach it from the laptop rather than pull down the entire computer.

iOS 14.4 Will Introduce Warning On iPhones With Non-Genuine Cameras, by Joe Rossignol and Steve Moser, MacRumors

“Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple camera,” the message will read. As with a similar warning for non-genuine iPhone displays, the message will likely appear in the Settings app under General > About as necessary, and the warning may also appear as a notification on the Lock screen for a short period.

Stuff

Apple TV+ Website Gets First UI Update Since The Streaming Service Launched, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

As of today’s overhaul, the new TV+ website homepage features the same featured header that you see in the Apple TV app, along with sections for latest releases and genre categories. This makes it feel much more familiar for customers who are used to the native TV app experience.

SpringNotes Is A Cross-Platform And Minimalistic Note-Taking App, by AppAdvice

With the app, you can easily write style Markdown notes that automatically sync across an iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Notes

Apple Working To Release Music And Podcasts Apps On Microsoft Store, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

Sources told 9to5Mac that Apple has been testing both Music and Podcasts apps for Microsoft platforms in a private beta. We cannot confirm if the apps will be compatible with Windows PCs or if they were developed to work exclusively with Xbox, just like the Apple TV app.

Doing Business With Apple Means You Probably Can't Tell Anyone About It, As Hyundai Learned, by Kif Leswing, CNBC

While nondisclosure agreements are common in high tech, people who work with Apple say it takes confidential information more seriously than competitors. Apple tells partners they can't mention Apple in public or to the media, according to people familiar with the matter who didn't want to be identified to avoid risking their relationship with Apple. One person who has worked with Apple described its secrecy requirements as a lot of hoops to jump through.

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I hope the future MacBook Pros can be charged via MagSafe and regular USB. No, not at the same time. But when I was still using my MacBook Air previously, when Apple had already transitioned to USB-C, I was worried that if anything went wrong with the MagSafe charger, I may not easily get a replacement.

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Thanks for reading.

The Giving-Opportunities Edition Thursday, January 14, 2021

Tim Cook Says Apple's $100 Million Racial Equity Initiative Is "About Giving People Opportunity", by CBS News

Speaking with "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Vice President Lisa Jackson are revealing new details about the racial equality initiative, launched last summer after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

"It's about giving people opportunity," Cook said. "I can't wait to see students that are able to enjoy the innovation hub at the Propel Center."

Coming Soon

macOS Big Sur 11.2 Beta 2 Removes Filter That Lets Apple Apps Bypass Third-party Firewalls, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

Back in November, some developers raised concerns due to a change in macOS Big Sur, which allowed Apple apps to bypass firewall filters in any situation. Since this could lead to security and privacy breaches, Apple has removed this list of exceptions from macOS Big Sur 11.2.

macOS Beta Code Suggests Apple Will Block Users From Sideloading Unsupported iOS Apps On M1 Macs, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

Based on internal code that is shared between recent iOS 14.4 beta versions and macOS Big Sur 11.2, Apple is implementing a new system that will block some iOS apps from running on the Mac. This, of course, will not affect the apps available on the Mac App Store.

URL Scheme Reveals Hidden 'Find My Items' Menu On Apple Devices, by Wesley Hilliard, AppleInsider

Apple has enabled third-party companies to use Find My to locate lost items, and a handy URL scheme will make the hidden "Find My Items" menu show up within the app.

Stuff

macOS Big Sur’s Battery Optimization: You Can’t Do Much To Tweak Settings, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

You can either deselect Optimized Battery Charging in the Battery tab of the Battery preference pane, or keep it checked and let macOS handle it. You can’t set a target of your own.

'An Otter RSS Reader' Arrives For iPhone, iPad, Mac With Widgets, iCloud Sync, Minimalist Design, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Key features include a minimalist design, iOS and Mac widgets, iCloud sync, an adorable icon, and as you’d hope, it’s a universal app.

The 7 Minute Workout App Was 'My Lifeline' During Quarantine, by Danielle Page, Today

What you will get is a workout that leaves you feeling energized and accomplished; one that you don't need to block out your calendar for during the day. Being able to do this workout at any time I felt motivated enough was a game-changer and kept me coming back for more.

Belkin Wireless Charger Sold By Apple Is Being Recalled For Fire Hazards, by Ian Carlos Campbell, The Verge

Belkin is voluntarily recalling its Portable Wireless Charger + Stand Special Edition that was sold in Apple retail stores and online on Apple and Belkin’s sites because of fire and shock safety hazards. No incidents or injuries have been connected to the charger, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the malfunction should only affect chargers sold between July 2020 and October 2020.

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I wish there can be really smart playlists in podcast players. For example: I want a smart playlist that automatically deletes any episodes about current news events that will make me unhappy.

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Thanks for reading.

The Equality-and-Justice Edition Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Apple Launches New Nationwide Racial Equity And Justice Initiative Projects, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Apple today announced a set of new projects as part of its $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI) to help dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and combat injustices faced by communities of color.

The projects include the Propel Center, a global innovation and learning hub for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), an Apple Developer Academy to support coding and tech education for students in Detroit, and venture capital funding for Black and Brown entrepreneurs.

Accessibility and Inclusivity

Living With Apple Fitness+: We Get Sweaty With The New Fitness Service, by James Stables, Wareable

Fitness+ is a brilliant workout app for Apple Watch users – although it’s 100% more focussed on accessibility and inclusivity than rivals. And the price looks great against rival apps.

Where Apple Could Improve Fitness+, by Dan Moren, Six Colors

Even after just a few weeks, we’ve definitely run into places where the service could be tweaked or offer more. That’s understandable, given that Fitness+ just launched, and no doubt Apple is planning to make changes down the road, especially once it sees how customers are using the service.

Stuff

Apple Still Repairing Eligible MacBooks For Anti-reflective Coating Issues, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

The program has already been extended once, and it seems that Apple is still repairing eligible MacBooks for free.

Transform Text In Real Time With Textcraft, by AppAdvice

There are more than 60 text formats available - everything from uppercase or lower case to more fun options like reversed text and bubbles.You can also find great options like the ability to strip HTML or encode/decode strings in Base64.

Notes

The Case For A 12-inch MacBook Air, by Jason Snell, Macworld

As much as I love my M1 MacBook Air, I would drop it in a heartbeat for a 12-inch model that looked like the Retina MacBook. There’s room in the Mac laptop line for a smaller, lighter MacBook. I promise it won’t take up very much space.

iTunes At 20: How One App Changed Apple's Course, by Kirk McElhearn, Intego

On January 10, 2001, Steve Jobs went on the stage at Macworld Expo in San Francisco and presented a new app that would change the course of Apple. iTunes would become Apple’s most important app, not only because it was the companion of the iPod that would be released later that year, but also because it would become the framework for all of the company’s future online stores.

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I hope people don't send out work emails just before the end of the workday... while I'm busy finishing up my work for the day and sending out work emails at the end of the workday.

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Thanks for reading.

The Find-Accessories Edition Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Apple Starts Allowing Third-parties To Join The Find My App Ahead Of AirTags Launch, by Wesley Hilliard, AppleInsider

Apple launched the Find My Accessory Program in June 2020 to certify third-party products.

Six months later and the first products to take advantage of the feature are being announced, including the latest Belkin SoundForm Pro true wireless earbuds. These will show natively in the app, the same way that your Apple devices do.

Medical Study Suggests iPhone 12 With MagSafe Can Deactivate Pacemakers, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

It doesn’t sound like there is concrete evidence that iPhone 12 and MagSafe do pose a greater risk of increased interference but with this study out now, we may see more testing in the medical field to find out for sure.

Apple Highlights Commitment To Privacy In New Ads On First Day Of CES 2021, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple has often used CES as an opportunity to promote the company’s commitment to privacy, and this year is no different, with Apple releasing two short privacy-focused ads that highlight how Face ID data and Apple Pay purchase history is not shared with Apple.

New Interfaces

Is App Library For Me?, by Tech Reflect

I hope that this helps you decide whether to use this unique and powerful new feature. And I hope you realize I’m actually making fun of the feature.

Big Sur’s Icons Die In The Dock, by Howard Oakley, Eclectic Light Company

I’m now reliant on position within the Dock for distinguishing several of Apple’s app icons. What works neatly in Launchpad and iOS/iPadOS doesn’t do at all well in the Dock.

Stuff

Apple Releases iOS 12.5.1 For Older iPhones With Bug Fix For COVID-19 Exposure Notifications, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple has released iOS 12.5.1 for older iPhones and iPads today, roughly one month after the release of iOS 12.5. The update includes bug fixes for the COVID-19 exposure notification feature.

AirPods Max Warranty Replacements Don’t Include New Ear Cushions Unless Necessary, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple’s assumption is that you should take the ear cups from your damaged AirPods Max and use them with your new pair.

Find The MagSafe Case That's Right For You, by Parker Ortolani, 9to5Mac

For the first time ever you can get any of the 2020 cases for all four flagship models all the way from the tiny iPhone 12 mini to the ginormous iPhone 12 Pro Max. So which case is right for you? Apple is currently offering clear cases, silicone cases, and two different styles of leather case.

Widgetsmith For iOS Updated With New Health And Fitness Widgets For Your iPhone’s Home Screen, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Widgetsmith now includes a variety of new step-counting widgets. You can set a daily step goal, then add a widget to your iOS 14 home screen that shows your progress toward that goal.

ESR HaloLock: Magsafe Compatible Car Vent Mount, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

For long trips, keeping your iPhone charged is crucial, so it’s not surprising that other manufacturers are filling the gap.

Puppr Review: Teach Your Dog New Tricks, by Alex Guyot, MacStories

The app is a simple and fun instructional tool for teaching your dog new behaviors and tricks. Since I’ve been staying with my parents for the last couple of months, I decided to take it for a spin doing some training with the family dog.

Notes

Biogen Will Use Apple Watch To Study Symptoms Of Dementia, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

Biogen is launching a new virtual research study in collaboration with Apple, one that will look into how an Apple Watch and iPhone could help monitor a person's cognitive decline, a potential symptom of dementia and neurological diseases.

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I am not feeling particularly optimistic about this year.

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Thanks for reading.

The Intermittent-Disconnection Edition Monday, January 11, 2021

Software Fix For M1 Mac Bluetooth Connectivity Issues Reportedly On The Way, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

When the ‌M1‌‌ MacBook Air, ‌‌M1‌‌ MacBook Pro 13-inch, and ‌‌M1‌‌ Mac mini models arrived in customers’ hands, a number of owners almost immediately began reporting various Bluetooth problems ranging from intermittent disconnects of wireless peripherals to completely non-functional Bluetooth connections.

6 Apps To Help You Trim Down Subscriptions—and Save Money, by David Nield, Wired

They help you identify the recurring payments leaving your bank account, so you can make sure you actually want to keep subscribing to all of them.

There's more to these apps than canceling subscriptions, though. They can help you renegotiate better deals on your smartphone contract, set up savings accounts for you, manage a more effective way of paying off debt, reduce the amount you need to pay on a parking ticket, and lots more—usually with minimal effort from you.

UK Leading The Way In Use Of Language-learning Apps, by Kitti Palmai and Will Smale, BBC

For a country not renowned for its population's skill or enthusiasm at learning a foreign language, the Covid-19 pandemic appears to have seen many more Britons try their hand at becoming at least a bit bilingual.

With lockdowns limiting what we can otherwise do with our leisure time, people have been downloading apps to swap their "hellos" for a "buenos días", "bonjour" or "guten tag".

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Can we skip forward to 2022?

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Thanks for reading.

The Half-the-Speed Edition Sunday, January 10, 2021

Don't Let Third Parties Confuse You About Apple's MagSafe, by Mike Peterson, AppleInsider

Many accessory makers have chosen to take a standard Qi charger and add the magnetic components to the edges to connect to the back of iPhone 12 models magnetically. The most significant difference here is that these chargers are often only 5W and 7.5W maximum — half the speed of Apple's MagSafe charger.

Stuff

These Apps Automute Your Microphone When Typing, by Lawrence Abrams, BleepingComputer

The good news is that software exists that can automatically mute your microphone while typing or suppress background noise so that others are not annoyed by the sound of your keyboard.

7 Hidden Things Most People Didn't Know Their Apple Watch Could Do, by Tyler Lacoma, iDrop News

Apple has a habit of continually packing its watches with lots of upgrades, including new features, watch faces, and more – so it’s no surprise that even dedicated Apple Watch users can get a little overwhelmed when updating or upgrading.

Get More Professional Photos With These Advanced Camera Apps, by Dwight Silverman, Houston Chronicle

Both iOS and Android devices will let you work with advanced third-party software that provides the kind of control you’d get with a DSLR.

Notes

He Created The Web. Now He’s Out To Remake The Digital World., by Steve Lohr, New York Times

“Pods,” personal online data stores, are a key technical ingredient to achieve that goal. The idea is that each person could control his or her own data — websites visited, credit card purchases, workout routines, music streamed — in an individual data safe, typically a sliver of server space.

The All-Levels Edition Saturday, January 9, 2021

I Tried Apple Fitness+ For A Month — And Finally Became An At-Home Workout Person, by Kylie Gilbert, InStyle

Not only is it great for someone brand new to a type of exercise or working out in general, but it's also a great way for someone like me to ease back in. The studio workouts also cater to all levels: If you're working on perfecting your planks or squat jumps, there's always a trainer showing you a modification so you don't hurt yourself or get discouraged if you can't do the 'full version' of a move.

Big Sound From Apple's Home Pod Mini, by Bob Levitus, Houston Chronicle

Purists may sneer at speakers that rely on custom-built chips and software, but I’m impressed. And, when it comes to audio and sound quality, I’m not impressed easily.

'Denim' Is A New iPhone App That Lets You Create Stunning Cover Artwork For Your Playlists, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

If you like to take some time to create your own music playlists, you know how hard it can be to keep them organized and, most importantly, give them a great name and cover artwork. With the Denim app, which was recently released on the App Store, you can easily create custom cover artwork for your playlists.

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When I was young, I was always rushing to get old. Today, I discovered, on a podcast, that there are others who are also planning to get older and be retired. Just like me. I'm hoping to rush forward so that I finally have time to slow down.

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Thanks for reading.

The Privacy-Moves Edition Friday, January 8, 2021

Apple Unveils Stringent Disclosure And Opt-in Privacy Requirements For Apps, by Glenn Fleishman, TidBITS

Apple’s privacy moves might topple some dark ad giants who don’t deliver for advertisers (or publishers) and have managed to hide their incompetence behind Rube Goldberg contraptions. It’s not unthinkable that Apple could help sweep in a simpler, more direct, and less intrusive advertising that resembles the Internet’s earlier days.

That’s probably too optimistic, but let’s start with the changes Apple has already made and the opt-in requirement on third-party tracking about to emerge.

Stuff

Two Months With The HomePod Mini: More Than Meets The Eye, by John Voorhees, MacStories

The combination of size, price, and unique features make it more than just a speaker for playing audio. That flexibility has made the HomePod mini a terrific fit for a broader range of situations than the original model. The audio quality of the original HomePod will always win out if I want to sit down and focus on music, but for getting things done around the house while enjoying music and podcasts, the HomePod mini is an excellent alternative that I expect will fit neatly into many more users’ lives.

TripMode 3 Review: Data-Saving App Is A Must-Have For Canadians, by Gary Ng, iPhone In Canada

For Canadians with limited data plans, TripMode allows you to connect to your hotspot connection safely, and limit any apps sapping up your data connection in the background. It’s a must-have app for those who work on the go.

LongPlay: Listen To Your Favorite Albums, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

What it does is incredibly simple: It shows you the albums in your Apple Music library. You can sort them by personal popularity, in alphabetical order, grouped by color, or (very cleverly) to highlight albums you love but haven’t listened to in a while.

Notes

FTC Commissioners Criticize Apple And Google In Settlement With Mobile Ad Company, by Megan Graham, Lauren Feiner, CNBC

The Federal Trade Commission said Thursday it has settled with mobile advertising company Tapjoy over claims it used false advertising offers for the promise of in-game rewards that weren't given.

But regulators also said Apple and Google helped create the environment that squeezes mobile gaming industry players and incentivizes them to find other monetization models that may have unsavory consequences for consumers.

Hyundai's Confusion Over Apple Electric Car Tie-up, by BBC

The South Korean car company initially said it was in the "early stage" of talks with the iPhone maker about a possible electric car partnership.

But hours later it backtracked and said it was talking with a number of potential partners without naming Apple.

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Please, continue to stay safe. I hope February will be better than January.

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Thanks for reading.

The Empty-Box Edition Thursday, January 7, 2021

How To Find The Perfect Music And Podcasts, Faster, by Tyler Hayes, Wired

The reason you’re not listening to what you want to when the mood strikes is because you can’t get to it fast enough. Whether you know it or not, you’re drowning in listening choices. Audio options abound. Often the time it takes to dig through songs, podcasts, or audiobooks is the thing that actually stops us from listening when we decided we wanted to listen.

I know I’ve thought about putting on some soft, background music during family dinner, but with only two or three minutes between when I think of it and when the timer goes off, I’ve given up. Making the perfect playlist isn’t hard, but it can take some time. The same goes for finding a new podcast episode or audiobook that can match the mood as well as a certain listening duration. It’s not hard, it just takes time.

Why Do People Keep Their Empty Apple Boxes?, by Hannah Ewens, Vice

People collect a lot of things — coins, comic books, vinyl records. Some are even into pretty outlandish things like celebrity hair strands. They’re usually novelties, but sometimes, they’re as basic as they can get. It turns out that a lot of people save the packaging that Apple products come in. Not just the old iPhones, MacBooks, and Apple Watches, but all their boxes too. It’s a pretty common habit and people have different reasons for keeping them, but some don’t even realize that they’re doing it. Until, of course, the internet started talking about it.

Apple Recaps Its 2020 Services, Including The App Store's Record-Breaking Holiday Season, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Among the highlights Apple shared are App Store revenue numbers for the 2020 holiday season, which were greater than 2019 for the same period and once again set an all-time record for single-day sales on New Year’s Day.

Stuff

Apple Launches Limited Edition AirPods Pro To Celebrate Chinese New Year, by Parker Ortolani, 9to5Mac

The unique emoji applied to the AirPods Pro case depicts the classic cow emoji with a smaller cow emoji popping out of its head with stars floating around it.

Bear (For Mac), by Jill Duffy, PC Magazine

Bear does away with folders and notebooks, giving you a place to simply create notes and store them. It also omits elaborate text styling, opting instead for Markdown language. Though light on features, it's a decent option for people with modest note-taking needs.

Overviewer Is A New App That Turns An iPhone Into A Document Camera For Zoom And Virtual Learning, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Overviewer will send to Zoom exactly what the iPhone’s camera sees, including support for property rotating into landscape. This allows teachers to use their iPhone like a document camera, and easily show students as they work on math problems, drawing, and other tasks.

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I have build playlists in my Apple Music for times when I just want to escape from real life, where I can not only block what's out there, but also block all the little voices in my head.

I think I'll spend some time to strenghtening my playlists.

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Thanks for reading.

The Finger-Printing Edition Wednesday, January 6, 2021

App Makers Explore Desperate Measures To Dodge Apple Privacy Rules, by Tim Bradshaw, Financial Times

Some app makers say they plan to use invasive tracking techniques such as “device fingerprinting” to work around the new restrictions — even though doing so risks getting them thrown off the App Store if they are caught.

“100 per cent, everyone will try doing fingerprints, whether Apple enforces their rules or not,” one mobile games developer said.

Google To Add App Store Privacy Labels To Its iOS Apps As Soon As This Week, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

And like other large companies, Google goes on a code freeze in late December through early January, so as not to cause major issues with its products and services over the holidays when staff is out.

[...]

Reached for comment, a Google spokesperson confirmed the company has a plan to add privacy labels across its app catalog. They also confirmed the labels are expected to begin rolling out as soon as this week or next week, though an exact date is not yet available.

Annual Proxy Filing

Apple Will Modify Executive Bonuses Based On Environmental Values In 2021, by Stephen Nellis, Reuters

Apple Inc said in its annual proxy filing on Tuesday that it will modify executive cash bonuses based on whether the executives act within the company’s social and environmental values.

But the iPhone maker did not specify how it would evaluate progress toward the company’s publicly stated targets such as removing carbon from its supply chain.

Apple Adds New Section About Antitrust Risk To Its Annual Proxy Statement, by Kif Leswing, CNBC

The language, which is new in this year's proxy statement, highlights how regulatory pressure and antitrust issues have become a significant risk for Apple as policymakers increasingly scrutinize big technology companies.

Coming Soon?

iOS 14.4 Beta Suggests Guided Audio Walking Workouts Coming To Apple Watch, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Named “Time to Walk”, the setting describes a feature where walking workouts are downloaded to the watch when connected to power and the iPhone is nearby.

Stuff

Memento Is The Simple, Clean Reminders Replacement You've Been Looking For, by Oliver Haslam, iMore

Beyond the syncing, there's a lot to like about Memento, starting with the powerful notifications for advanced triaging and continuing through the location support for tasks that need to be completed at a given place.

Notes

It’s Time For The Mac To Undergo A Product-design Renaissance, by Jason Snell, Macworld

I think Apple has been gearing up for this switch for a long time, and the move to a hardware platform Apple completely controls should leave to another flurry of creative activity that will shape the Macs we use for the next decade or more.

It’s time for Apple to put it all on the table. What does the definitive laptop of the 2020s look like? How can the iMac be reinvented, based on how users and technology have changed between 2007 and now?

Apple's Annual Shareholders Meeting To Take Place Virtually On February 23, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple’s annual shareholders meeting is set to take place on February 23, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time, Apple said today in an SEC filing. Shareholders meetings are normally held in person at Apple Park, but this year’s meeting will take place virtually and will be open to a greater number of shareholders because there are no space restrictions.

Apple's Holiday Quarter Earnings Announcement Scheduled For Jan. 27, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

Apple on Tuesday announced its quarterly earnings call for the first fiscal quarter of 2021 will be held on Jan. 27, offering a detailed breakdown of the important holiday quarter as the coronavirus pandemic rages.

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Will there be an iPad-like Mac? Will there be an iMac-like iPad? Or are there lines that Apple does not allow each product to cross?

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Thanks for reading.

The One-Home-Screen Edition Tuesday, January 5, 2021

You Only Really Need One Home Screen, by Beth Skwarecki, Lifehacker

I dedicate my one and only home screen to the apps that I actually want my phone to remind me about, or that I want the easiest possible access to. These include my camera, texting apps, and a few health and habit-related apps. If I want to browse old photos or check my work email, I have to take the extra two seconds to locate the appropriate app. As a result, my home screen represents what I want to use my phone for, rather than a hodgepodge of every app that’s made its way on there. And I’m happier this way.

Apple Still Hasn't Fixed iOS 14 Notifications Bug For Some Users, by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, ZDNet

Basically, the problem was (or is) that iPhone owners just aren't getting notifications for things like messages. Those with an Apple Watch were noticing that notifications were being delivered to their wrist, but that the iPhone was remaining silent. Those owning just an iPhone were left in the dark when a message came in.

Stuff

This Handy Fitness App Got Me Active Again At Home – Here’s Why You Should Try It, by Lauren Murdoch-Smith, Vogue

It’s got me moving, something that I admit I hadn’t been doing as much since being stuck at home, and I’ve discovered new workouts that I would have once shied away from. It’s truly a refreshing approach to taking an exercise class.

This App Puts Timers On Your iPhone Screen No Matter What You're Doing, by Oliver Haslam, iMore

Pop Out Timer & Stopwatch cleverly turns itself into a video and then allows users to watch that video via picture-in-picture. The result is a movable timer and stopwatch that you can always see, whether you're on your Home screen or checking up on Twitter.

Belkin Delays Its 3-in-1 MagSafe Wireless Charger, by William Gallagher, AppleInsider

Despite being among the first to announce a range of MagSafe accessories, Belkin has now said that its chief product has been delayed. The $149 3-in-1 Wireless Charger with Magsafe, which charges iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods, will now not be released until February.

Notes

Apple To Close All UK Retail Locations Amid New Government Lockdown, by Mike Peterson, AppleInsider

Apple will shutter all of its retail locations in the United Kingdom amid a new national lockdown implemented in response to a surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

WhatsApp Soundly Beaten By Apple’s Stunning New iMessage Update, by Zak Doffman, Forbes

In a fairly stark example of being careful what you wish for, Apple has updated its website and that same level of privacy information for iMessage is now live, presenting a stunning contrast between iMessage and WhatsApp.

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Even before iOS 14, I only had one home screen. All the other 'unnecessary' apps were hidden away in folders. iOS 14 makes this hiding even easier, though. It makes my fidgeting around the home screens even less likely to conjure up unnecessary apps that I can fiddle with.

Screen Time on my iPhone can set limits on certain categories of apps. Perhaps Apple can consider to also allow limits to be set on apps that are not on the home screen?

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Thanks for reading.

The Last-Bit Edition Monday, January 4, 2021

How To Craft The Perfect Apple Watch Face, by Craig Grannell, GQ

Whether you own the latest Apple Watch Series 6, the Apple Watch SE or an older model, your customisation options span from tracking the latest lunar cycle to AI-enabled artwork. Given all that choice can be a little overwhelming, we thought we'd break down your latest options and show you the shortcuts to crafting a more unique Watch.

Apple's 'Ring In The New Year' Activity Challenge Now Available, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Apple’s annual “Ring in the New Year” Activity Challenge has begun appearing for many users in the Fitness app on iPhone and Apple Watch over the last few days.

Apple AirPods Max Over-Ear Headphones Review, by Matthew Jens, Stereonet

Never in my life have I come across Bluetooth headphones that cost so much. But then again, never in my life have I come across full-size headphones that boast so much wizardry and gadgetry packed into a premium, luxurious wireless offering.

MyLife Review: The Mindfulness App That Hooks Meditation Skeptics, by Ken Foster, Mashable

But if you’re stressed out about your life and goals already, how can you trust your mental state to an algorithm-driven phone app? I was surprised to find how effective (and accessible) these apps can be.

'Peak Hype': Why The Driverless Car Revolution Has Stalled, by Gwyn Topham, The Guardian

Looking back, Reed says “the technology worked … people had the sense, it does the right thing most of the time, we are 90% of the way there. But it is that last bit which is the toughest. Being able reliably to do the right thing every single time, whether it’s raining, snowing, fog, is a bigger challenge than anticipated.”

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What delights me? A good story -- whether it is in an e-book, an audiobook, or a TV show. A cup of coffee. A cup of ginger tea. A perfect sunny-side-up egg.

May you be delighted every day in this new year.

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Thanks for reading.

The Decision-Reversing Edition Sunday, January 3, 2021

Apple Will Let Amphetamine App Stay In The App Store After Wrongly Telling Developer It Violated App Store Rules, by Kim Lyons, The Verge

The developer of Amphetamine, an app that prevents Macs from going into sleep mode, says Apple told him it violated App Store guidelines, even though it’s been in the App Store since 2014, and has nothing to do with drug use. Not long after The Verge reached out to Apple for comment on Saturday however, the company reversed its decision, and the app will be able to stay up with its current name and logo.

Apple Promotes Fitness+ And Apple Music Integration With ‘Studio Series’ Playlists, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

One of the key features Apple touts with its new Fitness+ workouts service is deep integration with Apple Music. One of the ways in which this is now manifesting itself is with a dedicated category in the Music app, allowing users to quickly view playlists from Fitness+ workouts.

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Apple should have known something is not quite right. When an app existed for quite a while on your App Store, and your reviewer suddenly rejected the app, maybe Apple should spend a bit more time reviewing your own decision first?

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Thanks for reading.

The Condensation-in-Cups Edition Saturday, January 2, 2021

AirPods Max Owners Are Reporting A Major Flaw — What You Need To Know, by Imad Khan, Tom's Guide

Users on Twitter are reporting condensation buildup inside the ear cups of the Apple AirPods Max, which might be problematic as the headphones are not water resistant.

Dato Review: Calendar Events And Time Zones From Your Mac's Menu Bar, by John Voorhees, MacStories

The convenience of having Dato sit in my menu bar means I don’t have to open the Calendar app when all I want to do is check my schedule.

10 Best Calculator Apps For iPad You Can Use In 2021, by Akshay Gangwar, BeeBom

So, whether you want a scientific calculator, graphing calculator, or just a simple calculator, here are the 10 best calculator apps for iPad.

Apple Vs Facebook: Why I'm On Team Apple, by David Court, Stuff

Apple giving its customers the choice of more digital privacy is logical and sensible. The only questions I have is: why has it taken so long and why hasn't this been done at a governmental level?

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I don't think I've seen the sun yet in 2021. It has been raining all day long for these first two days of the new year here in Singapore.

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Thanks for reading.

The Supply-Chain-Cleanup Edition Friday, January 1, 2021

Apple Reportedly Took Years To Drop A Supplier That Used Underage Labor, by Igor Bonifacic, Yahoo

Former employees who worked for Apple’s supplier responsibility team, the internal unit that audit’s the company’s manufacturer partners to ensure they’re adhering to labor and safety rules, said several issues prevent Apple from cleaning up its supply chain. To start, there aren’t many manufacturers that meet Apple’s standards for quality and volume, and there are fewer still that can step in and fill its needs on short notice. Related to that problem is that the company is often unwilling to incur higher costs and go through product delays. They claim Apple has avoided or delayed dropping a manufacturer when doing so would mean hurting its business. The Information details two examples that showcase how that’s created a problem for the company.

Charger Nerdery, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

What really matters when an adapter is negotiating with a device are the various voltage/amp configurations that the charger can supply as output, and the device can accept as input.

macOS Big Sur 11.1 Now Reverts Open/Save Dialog Boxes To Original Size, by Zohaib Ahmed, PiunikaWeb

The macOS Big Sur 11.1 update now forces users to resize Open/Save dialog boxes according to their requirements each and every time they pop up.

Stuff

Two Weeks With Apple Fitness+, by Cherlynn Low, Yahoo

The good news is that with its excellent tech, Fitness+ has laid the groundwork for a satisfying service that can grow with its users.

AirPods Max Case: WaterField Shield Hands-on, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The WaterField Designs Shield Case provides ample protection for when my AirPods Max are in my backpack, which is a crucial advantage over the Apple Smart Case.

Textcraft App For iOS And Mac Offers Powerful Text Conversion Tools For HTML Stripping, Base64, Alt Case, Emoji, Much More, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Textcraft brings over 50 formats that you can quickly convert your text to which should be useful for everyone from developers to everyday users.

Notes

Apple Executes New Year's Eve Apps Purge In China, by Leo Kelion, BBC

Apple kicked tens of thousands of products off the Chinese version of its App Store on the final day of the year to meet Beijing's demands.

The bulk of them were unlicensed games.

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The M1 chip is out. This year, there may even be a more powerful Apple-Silicon making its debut. So, the obvious the question to ask: Will the upcoming iPad Pro take advantage of the same Apple Silicon chips? Will iPads be making a huge leap too, just like what the Mac is doing right now? What new capabiltiies will the iPadOS bring this year? Will we finally have all the Pro apps -- Xcode, Final Cut, Logic -- on iPadOS?

I can't wait to see what Apple is doing for this year.

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Thanks for reading.