Category Archives: Apple

Apple Introduces HomePod Mini



Apple has introduced HomePod mini, the newest addition to the HomePod family that delivers impressive sound, the intelligence of Siri to get things done, and a smart home experience that offers comfort and convenience without complexity.

At just 3.3 inches tall, HomePod mini is packed with innovative technologies and advanced software that together enable computational audio to deliver breakthrough audio quality wherever it is placed. HomePod mini will be available in white and space gray at a great price of just $99.

HomePod mini is designed to work with Apple Music, podcasts, radio stations from iHeartRadio, radio.com, and TuneIn, and in the coming months, popular music services including Pandora and Amazon Music. Multiple HomePod mini speakers work together to stream music or podcasts to multiple rooms, all in perfect sync. By placing two HomePod mini speakers in a single room, a stereo pair can be created for a wide soundstage, filling the space with rich, enveloping sound.

With the intelligence of Siri, HomePod mini delivers a personalized and deeply integrated experience for iPhone customers. Siri can identify who is speaking and tailor music and podcasts to their preferences, and respond to personal requests, like accessing messages, reminders, notes, and calendar appointments, or making and answering phone calls. Users can ask Siri “What’s my update?” to hear the latest news, weather, traffic, reminders, and calendar appointments.

HomePod mini integrates with other Apple devices. You can use HomePod mini to pick up an incoming call, listen to music on the Mac, or upgrade the TV experience by taking the sound from Apple TV to the next level. When listening to music on iPhone, customers can bring their device close to HomePod mini and seamlessly hand off the music without missing a beat.

HomePod mini also has an intercom system that can be used to control smart accessories. It can be used to turn off the lights, change the temperature, lock the doors, or set a scene.

The intercom system can be used as an easy way for family members to connect with each other at home. One person can send an intercom message from one HomePod to another, and their voice will automatically play on the designated HomePod speaker. Intercom works with iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods and CarPlay.

Perhaps the most reassuring part of HomePod mini is that it was designed with privacy and security in mind. With HomePod mini, only after “Hey Siri” is recognized locally on the device, or the user activates Siri by touch, will any information be sent to Apple servers. Requests are not associated with the user’s Apple ID, and personal information is not sold to advertisers or other organizations.

HomePod mini will be available in white and space gray for $99 (US) from apple.com., in the Apple Store app, and Apple Store locations.

Customers in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan Spain, the UK and the US are able to order HomePod mini beginning at 5 a.m. PST on Friday, November 6, with availability beginning the week of November 16. HomePod mini will be available in China, Mexico and Taiwan later this year.


Apple Extends Apple TV+ Free Trials Through February 2021



People who purchased a new Apple device from September 2019 were automatically eligible for a free year of Apple TV+, 9To5Mac reported. Those free trials were set to expire at the end of October 19, 2020. People who bought a new Apple device within that timeframe will have their Apple TV+ free subscription extended through February 2021.

TechCrunch provided details on this deal:

  • If your Apple TV+ subscription ends on November 1, 2020, through January 31 of 2021, Apple is extending the free year to your sub date in February of 2021.
  • The yearly subscriber extension applies to people who subbed prior to January 31, 2020.
  • If your sub was set to end November 15th, 2020, then your first billing date would now be February 15th, 2020.
  • If people signed up for subs without a new device purchase during that same date period, they will also get their free subscription extended through February 2021.
  • If you have signed up for a monthly subscription before November 1, 2020, you’ll get a $4.99 credit per month.
  • The new device program where you get a year of Apple TV+ free will still continue.
  • Customers will get emails about this.

It is always nice to get something for free! The timing of the freebie puts it right into the holiday season when the weather is getting colder and people tend to want to stay indoors. Typically, people tend to travel during the holidays, but that might not be a good idea this year because of COVID-19. Those who are eligible for the extended Apple TV+ free trial will have something interesting to watch while stuck at home.


Apple has Taken Legal Action Against Prepear



Apple is taking legal action against the developers of the Prepear app, because Apple thinks Prepear’s logo is too close to its own, iPhone in Canada reported. Apple is a gigantic company, with plenty of money spend on court battles. Prepear is a small company with five employees.

Prepear is a meal planning and grocery list app – which you can find on the App Store, ironically enough. (It is also available on Android). Prepear’s app includes personalized meal ideas and easy cooking instructions. Apple makes smartphones, laptops and desktop computers, and runs and maintains the App Store, among other things. I don’t see how a person would get these two companies confused.

Apple’s Notice of Opposition was filed in the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The iPhone in Canada blog has embedded a copy of it into its blog post about this situation. The litigation provides some insight as to what Apple was thinking:

Consumers encountering Applicant’s Mark are likely to associate the mark with Apple. Applicants’s Mark consists of a minimalistic fruit design with a right-angled leaf, which readily calls to mind Apple’s famous Apple Logo and creates a similar commercial impression, as shown in the following side-by-side comparison:

In short, Apple is trying to defend its logo. According to Entrepreneur, registering a mark (or logo) with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office establishes ownership. Xavier Morales, Esq., a licensed trademark attorney, wrote a blog post on his Secure Your Trademark blog in which he stated that uncontrolled licensing of a mark can can lead to the loss of trademark rights. To be clear, neither of these blog posts were specifically writing about the Apple – Prepear situation.

Personally, I feel bad for Prepear. In an Instagram post on the SuperHealthyKids account, written by Natalie, a registered dietitian who started Prepear almost five years ago, you can read her take on the Apple-Prepear litigation:

“This is a big blow to us at Prepear. To fight this it will cost tens of thousands of dollars. The CRAZY thing is that Apple has done this to dozens of other small business fruit logo companies, and many have chosen to abandon their logo, or close doors.While the rest of the world is going out of their way to help small businesses during this pandemic, Apple has chosen to go after our small business.”

For those who are interested, there is a petition on Change.org titled “Save the Pear from Apple!” At the time I am writing this, the petition has 16,321 signatures, and is aiming for 25,000. Petitions like this one give people a means by which to express their opinions. Personally, I doubt Apple, or the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, will be persuaded by a petition.


Apple is Making More Inclusive Updates to Coding Terminology



Apple posted a press release in which it explains that they are working to remove and replace non-inclusive language. This decision comes at a time when several others are working towards removing terminology like master/slave and blacklist/whitelist from coding.

At Apple, we’re working to remove and replace non-inclusive language across our developer ecosystem, including with Xcode, platform APIs, documentation, and open source projects. These changes began on June 22 with the beta software and developer documentation released at WWDC20 moving to terms such as allow list and deny list, and main as the default SCM branch in Xcode 12. An updated Apple Style Guide reflects these and other changes.

Developer APIs with exclusionary terms will be deprecated as we introduce replacements across internal codebases, public APIs, and open source projects, such as WebKit and Swift. We encourage you to closely monitor deprecation warnings across your codebases and to proactively move to the latest APIs available in the platform SDKs.

Apple is replacing blacklist/whitelist with alternatives such as list/allow or unapproved/approved. It also will replace master/slave with alternatives like primary/secondary, primary/replica, main/secondary, or host/client.

The changes being made by Apple are happening around the same time that GitHub and Linux Team also started making efforts to remove terms like master/slave that reference slavery.

The recent efforts to replace hurtful terms with more inclusive ones comes in response to the Black Lives Matter protests. People are looking at the world around them a bit differently than before, and many seem interested in updating non-inclusive terminology.

CNET reported that Twitter began a push to drop language with racist connections in January. Google’s Chromium project has discussed making similar changes.


Apple Wins Fight over $14.9 Billion Tax Bill



Apple won its court battle over a $14.9 billion (13 billion-euro) Irish tax bill, Bloomberg reported. The EU General Court sided with Apple, saying the European Commission failed to show Ireland’s tax arrangement with the company were illegal state aid. This decision can be appealed.

Bloomberg reported that Apple welcomed the ruling, saying the case “was not about how much tax we pay, but where we are required to pay it.”

This situation goes back to 1991, when Ireland granted its first “tax ruling” to Apple, the Irish Times reported. Apple’s tax agreement in Ireland was replaced in 2007 by a second “tax ruling”.

In 2013, US Senators John McCain and Carl Levin labeled Ireland a “tax haven for multinational companies such as Apple” in a hearing in Washington on tax avoidance. Later in 2013, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan outlined plans to ensure Irish-registered companies cannot be “stateless” for tax purposes. This included Apple’s arrangements.

In 2014, EU issued preliminary findings that Apple’s tax arrangements were improperly designed to give the company a financial boost in exchange for jobs in the Ireland.

In 2016, The EU issued a final decision on the Irish-Apple case, saying the Republic of Ireland must recover up to $13 billion-euro in back taxes from Apple. Later that year, Apple appealed, saying it was singled out as a “convenient target”.

The case was heard by the EU’s second-highest court in 2019. And today, we have the ruling.

The Irish Times reported that the ruling could still be appealed by the commission before the Court of Justice of the European Union, the EU’s highest court. If that happens, it could take another three years before there is a final outcome of the case.

According to The Irish Times, most of the €14.3 billion collected by the Government in 2018 following directions from the commission, including €1.2 billion of interest, will remain in escrow until a final verdict is delivered. In other words, there is the potential that this case will linger for another three years, awaiting the next verdict.


Apple is Closing Some Retail Stores Again



When Apple started slowly reopening its retail stores in May of this year, it stated that it would take the preventative step of closing stores again should local conditions warrant. Since then, some states have had spikes of COVID-19 cases. As such, Apple is re-closing some of its stores again.

9To5Mac reported that Apple is temporarily closing 11 of its stores in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Arizona, out of an abundance of caution.

Those who were paying attention when Apple announced their approach to reopening stores in May won’t be surprised to see Apple closing stores in areas where spikes of COVID-19 cases are happening. Part of Apple’s post about it said:

Our commitment is to only move forward with a reopening once we’re confident we can safely return to serving customers from our stores. We look at every available piece of data – including local cases, near and long-term trends, and guidance from national and local health officials. These are not decisions we rush into – and a store opening in no way means that we won’t take the preventative step of closing it again should local conditions warrant.

According to Bloomberg the Apple stores being closed are Waterside Shops and Coconut Point in Florida, Southpark and Northlake Mall in North Carolina, Haywood Mall in South Carolina, and Chandler Fashion Center, Scottsdale Fashion Square, Arrowhead, SanTan Village, Scottsdale Quarter and La Encantada in Arizona.

People who live near those Apple stores will be able to pick up device repairs at the stores this weekend. Bloomberg reported that Apple has not provided a timeline for reopening.

This could have been avoided if people had followed the directions given by the CDC to wash their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, to stay at least six feet apart from other people, and to wear a mask. All of those methods help to stop the spread of COVID-19.


New Tom Hanks movie to be released straight to Apple TV as an exclusive



I’m sure I don’t need to remind anyone of who Tom Hanks is. The man who gave us things like Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, Cast Away, Captain Phillips and Sully, just to name a few.

Now Hanks has a new movie and this release will be unique, but also a sign of the times we’re living in. With theaters closed Sony reached a deal with Apple TV to give it exclusive rights to the World War II submarine movie “Greyhound”

The movie had been slated for father’s day weekend, but Apple has given no date when they’ll begin showing it.

This is not the only movie going this route,  “Scoob” is now on Amazon Prime directly. And others have or will follow suit.

What will this do to the theater industry? It’s hard to say. It may recover when all of this passes, but will people return or will they become used to this new way of doing business? It will be interesting to see this play out.

In the meantime Sony has released a trailer which you can watch here