The Used-for-Good Edition Wednesday, February 23, 2022

I Used An Apple AirTag To Track My Wife And Kids. Here’s What I Learned, by Gordon Ung, PCWorld

Apple and Tile are likely uncomfortable with the trackers being used this way since they’re always thinking about the liability that could come their way. Apple has already made some changes to start to address AirTag stalking concerns. Good! I don’t care what Apple or Tile think, though, because despite the months of scary headlines—this one included—I’ve come to realize the AirTag and Tile are very powerful tools that can also be used for good, and not just abused for evil.

Apple Stores Drop Mask Mandates, Plan Return Of In-Store Classes, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

The company announced the changes this week to employees at eligible stores and has updated its website to reflect which locations are no longer requiring masks. Apple, however, will continue to recommend that customers wear masks and will provide them upon request. Apple retail workers will still be required to wear masks, employees say.

TechScape: How Spotify May Have Just Quietly Changed Podcasts Forever, by Alex Hern, The Guardian

And bizarrely, the company is building towards that goal almost unopposed. Apple, whose built-in Podcasts app is still the market leader, has all but abandoned the medium it effectively created. Its desultory launch of paid-for podcasts in late 2021 was notable more for temporarily breaking its own podcast store than it is for the small number of shows that have taken it up on the offer. Amazon is building an impressive roster of audio exclusives at Audible, but its end goal is more clearly a Netflix-style model. And the roster of indie apps and networks that make up the long-tail of the podcasting industry lack the resources and coordination to put up much of a fight.

Coming Soon

Apple Gives Siri A Less Gendered Voice, by Ina Fried, Axios

With the latest version of iOS, currently in testing, Apple is offering a Siri voice that is less explicitly male- or female-sounding, Axios can confirm.

It's part of an effort by Apple to offer a more diverse array of options for its virtual assistant. Last year it added two Siri options recorded by Black voice actors.

iOS 15.4 Beta 4 Adds Anti-stalking Alerts To AirTag And Other Find My Accessories, by Filipe Espósito, 9to5Mac

Apple on Tuesday released the fourth beta of iOS 15.4 to developers, which comes ahead of the rumored special event early next month. As promised by the company, today’s beta adds anti-stalking alerts to AirTags and other Find My accessories.


6 Of The Easiest Breathing Exercises To Help Relieve Your Anxiety And Stress, by Khamosh Pathak, Lifehacker

It’s best to not be dependent on apps when it comes to breathing exercises and meditation, but there’s where most of us begin. There are plenty of great guided meditation apps if you’re getting started, and once you get in the groove, you can try to keep going on your own.


When I'm Sad My Computer Sends Me Cats, by Andrew Healey

Our computers are fast enough that we can run machine learning models in a browser in the background, maybe without even noticing.


Scientists Finally Did A Study To See If Taking 10,000 Steps A Day Actually Matters. Here's What They Found, by Jessica Stillman, Inc.

If your aim is simply to stay healthy and reduce your chances of an untimely end, this study shows there's nothing magical about the number 10,000. If your fitness device says you managed less steps than that one day, don't feel obligated to trudge around the block in the dark until you hit your daily target. When it comes to maintaining health 7,000 steps will do just fine.

Big Tech Makes A Big Bet: Offices Are Still The Future, by Kellen Browning, New York Times

Debates over whether workers should be required to return to the office can be thorny because some employees say they have been happier and more productive at home. One way companies are trying to lure them back is by splurging on prime office space with great amenities.

Big Tech executives say that office expansions are to be expected and that modernized buildings will probably be spaces for people to collaborate rather than stare at screens.

Apple Says Employees And Customers Are Safe After Store Hostage Situation In Amsterdam , by Natasha Mascarenhas, Amanda Silberling, TechCrunch

In response to a now-resolved hostage situation at an Amsterdam store, Apple says that all employees and customers are safe “after this terrifying experience,” per a statement obtained by TechCrunch. There is still an on-going investigation, the company added.

“We want to thank local law enforcement for their exceptional work and ongoing investigation,” the statement, provided by an Apple spokesperson, continues. “Our teams and customers took swift action and showed incredible strength and resolve today, and we are so thankful for the support and care they’ve shown each other under such challenging circumstances.”

Bottom of the Page

I am very excited about the upcoming iOS release, and I just figured out why. Face masks are not going away anytime soon -- at least here in Singapore -- so having FaceID finally works again everywhere (almost) is one 'normal' thing that I do crave for.

FaceID still doesn't work in the middle of the night when I was lying on the bed and cannot go back to sleep, and have to shove the iPhone right in my face to be able to see anything at all because I don't have my glasses on, and I am trying to get it to play some BBC Radio 4 to listen to, and hope that I can get back to sleep with some soothing voices in my ears.


Thanks for reading.