Category Archives: Apple

Apple HomePod and HomePod Mini Will Support Lossless Audio



Apple posted information about lossless audio in Apple Music. This comes after Apple discontinued the original HomePod in March of 2021, in favor of focusing on the HomePod mini.

Apple posted information titled: “About lossless audio in Apple Music”. The first line under the title clearly states: “Lossless is not yet available but is coming soon.” From the information:

What you need to know about lossless in Apple Music:

  • Streaming lossless audio over a cellular or Wi-Fi network consume significantly more data. And downloading lossless audio uses significantly more space on your device. Higher resolutions use more data than lower ones.
  • AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, and Beats wireless headphones use Apple AAC Bluetooth Codec to ensure excellent audio quality. However, Bluetooth connections aren’t lossless.

The Verge reported that Apple is basically saying those who want to delete and redownload their music from Apple have to do it through Apple’s subscription service. However, according to The Verge, Apple will offer over 20 million songs in lossless quality at launch in June. The total number of lossless quality songs will reach over 75 million by the end of 2021.

Can you listen to lossless audio on your HomePod or HomePod mini? Apple answered that question. HomePod and HomePod mini currently use ACC to ensure excellent quality. Support for lossless is coming in a future software update.

9to5Mac reported that broadcast radio, live radio, on-demand content from Apple Music 1, and Music videos won’t support lossless audio. iTunes purchases also cannot be downloaded again in lossless, as its only available from the Apple Music catalog.


96% of iOS Users in the U.S. Opted-Out of App Tracking



Apple’s release of iOS 14.5 included the ability for users to opt-out of allowing apps to track them. Ars Technica reported that 96% of iOS users in the United States chose to opt-out of tracking. This news should surprise no one, because it is well known that people use ad blockers and VPNs to avoid being tracked.

The information about the percentage of users in the United States who chose to opt-out of app tracking comes from a company called Flurry Analytics. It is owned by Verizon Media. Flurry is updating that data daily.

Until now, apps have been able to rely on Apple’s Identifier for Advertiser (IDFA) to track users for targeting and advertising purposes. With the launch of iOS 14.5 this week, mobile apps now have to ask users who have upgraded to iOS 14.5 for permission to gather tracking data. With opt-in rates expected to be low, this change is expected to create challenges for personalized advertising and attribution, impacting the $189 billion mobile advertising industry worldwide.

Ars Technica reported that Flurry Analytics says U.S. users agree to be tracked only four percent of the time. The global number of users deciding to opt-in to tracking is at twelve percent. That number is below some advertising companies’ estimates.

Predictably, the news appears to be alarming to companies like Facebook who heavily rely on tracking and data collection from users for the purpose of showing ads to users. Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature does allow Facebook (and other companies that track people) to provide a brief explanation about why they absolutely need to keep grabbing your data. Clearly, those explanations are falling flat as most users opt out of tracking.


German Advertising Companies Accuse Apple of Antitrust Abuse



A group of Germany’s largest media, tech, and advertising companies have accused Apple of antitrust abuse as it introduces changes to the privacy settings of iPhones that they say will harm the ads market, Financial Times reported.

According to Financial Times, nine industry associations, representing companies including Facebook and Axel Springer, the owner of Bild, Die Welt and Insider, filed a complaint on Monday with Germany’s competition regulator.

The New York Times has a detailed article about some of the changes coming when Apple releases iOS 14.5. The thing that is causing advertising companies (and the platforms and games that rely on them for data) to be so angry with Apple is a feature that is absolutely fantastic for users who value their privacy.

The new App Tracking Transparency feature will show a pop-up notification that iPhone users will see when an app wants to track them. It says: Allow [name of app] to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites? There is a space on the notification for the company that wants to track the user to attempt to explain itself.

The best part is that the App Tracking Transparency feature gives the user control over whether or not they want a specific app to track them (and potentially create financial gain off the user’s data). To prevent that from happening, all the user has to do is tap the text that says: Ask App not to Track.

There is a common refrain from advertising companies, and the platforms who rely on them, who desperately need to track users in order for the ad company and platform to make money. In December of 2020, Facebook purchased a series of full-page newspaper ads to complain about Apple. At the time, Facebook claimed that not allowing Facebook to track users data would be “devastating to small businesses.”

The German advertising complaint against Apple is also ridiculous. They are predicting that the change will result in “a 60 percent fall in advertising revenues for app developers, as the changes make it harder for third parties to gather the data they need,”

Personally, I am on Apple’s side in this argument. Companies that never bothered to ask people for permission to not only track them across websites and apps, but also to scoop up their data and give it to third parties, are predators. The sneaky way they did this clearly shows that they knew people would not say “yes” to those requests.

Next, they stupidly based the majority of their income on the erroneous concept that people would either never know what was happening, or that they would never be given the opportunity to opt-out. Since then certain countries, and some U.S. states, have created privacy restrictions that prevent greedy companies from grabbing user’s data. Apple’s iOS 14.5 is one more tool towards making the internet safer for people to use.


Apple is Discontinuing the Original HomePod



Apple has discontinued its original HomePod, TechCrunch has reported. Apple will continue to produce and focus on the HomePod mini (which was introduced last year).

Apple gave TechCrunch a statement about the discontinuation of HomePod:

HomePod mini has been a hit since its debut last fall, offering customers amazing sound, an intelligent assistant and smart home control all for just $99. We are focusing our efforts on HomePod mini. We are discontinuing the original HomePod, it will continue to be available while supplies last through the Apple Online Store, Apple Retail Stores, and Apple Authorized Resellers. Apple will provide HomePod customers with software updates and service and support through Apple Care.

If you are hoping to buy a HomePod, you better move fast. The Verge reported on Friday, March 12, 2021, that the Space Grey model of the full-size HomePod had already sold out on Apple’s online store.

According to The Verge, the full-size HomePod launched with a $349 price tag at launch. In April of 2019, Apple dropped the price to $299. In 2020, Apple released the HomePod mini at $99. Clearly, the best choice is to buy right now is the HomePod mini – instead of trying to track down a full-size HomePod.

What if you already have the full-sized HomePod? TechCrunch reported that Apple will continue to provide support for existing HomePods. In other words, your HomePod is not going to suddenly stop working.


Apple Released Security Updates for iOS



Apple released two iOS security updates: iOS 14.4.1 and iPadOS 14.3.1 on March 8, 2021. According to MacRumors, these new updates came two weeks after the release of macOS 11.2.2 (which was a bug fix update).

9to5Mac reported that Apple said: “This update provides important security updates recommended for all users.” Apple instructed users to visit the Apple security webpage for more details.

Here is how Apple described the iOS updates:

Available for: iPhone 6s and later, iPad Air 2 and later, iPad mini 4 and later, and iPod touch (7th generation)

Impact: Processing maliciously crafted web content may lead to arbitrary code execution

Description: A memory corruption issue was addressed with improved validation

CVE-2021-1844: Clément Lecigne of Google’s Threat Analysis Group, Alison Huffman of Microsoft Browser Vulnerability Research

To start the updates, iOS users need to go to the Setting app and choose “Software Update”. If you don’t see the update immediately, don’t worry. Keep checking as it may take a few minutes to hit your device.

It is always a good idea to make sure your iPhone, and iPad have the most recent security update on them. Apple doesn’t send these types of updates unless it is very important. Procrastinating on security updates could potentially leave your devices vulnerable to whatever Apple is trying to protect them from.


Apple Temporarily Closes Stores (Again) Due to COVID-19



Apple has temporarily closed nearly one-fifth of its stores due to new COVID-19 restrictions, 9To5Mac reported. This is not the first time that Apple closed stores that were located in areas where there were spikes of COVID-19 cases. 95 Apple Stores across the globe have re-closed since Monday, December 14, 2020.

Apple announced closures of all its stores in California and Tennessee this weekend, adding to just over a dozen closures of Los Angeles stores announced on December 18. On Friday, California broke its record for most new COVID-19 cases in a single day since the pandemic began.

Bloomberg reported that Apple closed all 53 of its locations in California, one day after saying it would close stores in the Los Angeles area. The closures now cover major locations in the San Francisco Bay Area.

MacRumors reported that all retail locations in California have a notice letting customers know that the stores are temporarily closed, though some are allowing for order pickups and genius bar appointments through December 22. There’s no word on when the stores will reopen, but they will remain closed through the holidays.

Stores in Tennessee were closed this weekend, MacRumors reported. Stores that are located in the UK’s Tier 4 restrictions shut down today. Apple closed 18 stores in Germany and the Netherlands last week, and stores in Mexico and Brazil are closing this weekend.

I think Apple is doing the right thing by temporarily closing these stores. It is a good way to help prevent their workers from being exposed to COVID-19. Doing so also prevents last-minute shoppers, who are in areas where COVID-19 is surging, from gathering in stores and potentially spreading the virus.


Apple Responded to Facebook’s Anti-Tracking Criticism



Apple has responded to Facebook’s criticisms about Apple’s upcoming iOS 14 update. Specifically, Facebook appears to be angry that the update will require people to opt-in to targeted advertising and tracking.

Apple provided a statement to MacRumors about the update:

We believe that this is a simple matter of standing up for our users. Users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites – and they should have the choice to allow that or not. App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 does not require Facebook to change its approach to tracking users and creating targeted advertising, it simply requires that they give users a choice.

Personally, I think that Apple’s decision to allow users to know when their data is being collected – and to have the choice to allow it or not – is a good one. I live in California, which enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA). It requires that business that collect a consumer’s personal information must inform consumers about the categories of personal information to be collected and the purposes for which is it used. This must be done before the point of collection. It also allows people to tell a business not to sell their personal information to third parties.

Apple’s upcoming iOS 14 update sounds like it is in compliance with the CCPA. It might also comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which also regulates data protection.

One of the best things about Apple’s iOS 14 update is that the default setting is to alert all users about how a specific app will use their data. Users don’t have to figure out how to prevent data collection and tracking – Apple already does that for them. That said, if you really want Facebook (and other apps) to collect your data, and sell it to third-parties, you will have the ability to opt-in to that.